Marshall University officials have announced that the search for the university’s 37th president will continue following an initial round of off-campus interviews.
Board of Governors Chairman Michael G. Sellards, who is leading the presidential search, said that after interviewing six candidates this weekend, search committee members decided they are not yet prepared to invite members from the current field of candidates for on-campus interviews.
“The committee met for interviews with a number of highly qualified individuals,” he said. “Each candidate brought desirable attributes to the table and we were pleased with the overall quality. In the final analysis, we decided to keep the search going.”
He said the primary reason is that the next step in the process—the campus visits—are a critical point for both the university and for the candidates.
“For the university, it’s a commitment that the committee believes we have found at least three people we believe could be an outstanding president at Marshall. For the candidates, it means their identities become public for the first time, so they have to be certain, too,” he said. “We don’t want to disclose finalists’ names until we are absolutely sure we have the right people.”
Sellards added that Marshall is in an unusual situation. Unlike a traditional search, he said, when the previous president has retired or left for another job, Marshall is replacing a beloved president who died suddenly.
He said, “This search also takes on a slightly different characteristic than you usually see in these instances. The tragedy the entire university community suffered when Dr. Kopp passed away is still not entirely behind us and we want to take just that much more care to ensure we are moving ahead in the right direction.”
Sellards said the search will now be continued to identify any additional candidates who may not have been in the original pool and that he expects a revised timeline for the search will be determined in the coming days.
He added that the search committee wants to move forward quickly, but the desire to move expeditiously should not overshadow the larger picture.
“As we have said since the beginning, this search is a fluid process,” he said. “The entire search committee is dedicated to finding the right person and we are extremely confident we will do so. This is the way the process is designed to work. If it takes more time, then it takes more time.”
Sellards said Interim President Gary G. White has agreed to stay on until a new president is selected. A Marshall alumnus, White was appointed to the interim position on Dec. 29, 2014. He is not a candidate for the permanent position.
Sellards said, “We are grateful to Mr. White for his continuing commitment to Marshall University. He is doing a tremendous job of leading the institution through this transition and we are pleased he has agreed to stay with us as we continue to search for a permanent leader. There is a great deal of important work to be done over the summer related to the ongoing Marshall 2020 strategic planning process and he is the right person to move that initiative forward.”
White said, “I stand ready and willing to do what is needed. As much as anyone, I want to see Marshall University find and hire the right person to be president. I love this institution that has done so much for me personally, and am pleased to have the opportunity to give back by serving in this role. I appreciate the board’s confidence in me during this critical time.”
Sellards also thanked the members of the search committee, who he says have devoted a remarkable amount of time to reviewing candidates and participating in interviews.
“These committee members are doing very difficult work and that work will continue until we identify a new president for Marshall University. I want to publicly thank them for all they have done and will continue to do,” he said.
The search committee is composed of the 16 members of the Board of Governors—which includes student, faculty and staff representatives—as well as the president of the Faculty Senate. Ex-officio, non-voting committee members include White and Dr. Paul Hill, chancellor of the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission.
The search procedures approved by the board on Feb. 11 specify that following off-campus interviews, the search committee will identify between three and five finalists to be interviewed on campus. Sellards said an initial field of nearly 60 candidates was narrowed to the group of semi-finalists interviewed over the past several days. The identities of all candidates will remain confidential until finalists for campus visits are announced.
Marshall is using the services of AGB Search Inc. to coordinate the search. The firm’s contract calls for them to continue to assist the university at no additional cost.
Information about the search process is available at www.marshall.edu/presidential-search. The site includes an online feedback form to allow people to provide input.