Board of governors lays out plan to select next president

Marshall University’s board of governors, meeting last week on the Huntington campus, laid out the search process for the selection of the institution’s 37th president. The position has been vacant since the death of Dr. Stephen J. Kopp in December.

The board passed a resolution that its 16 members will be the voting members of the search committee.

Michael G. Sellards, board chairman, will chair the search committee. Other board members include Phyllis Arnold, James Bailes, Phil Cline, Oshel Craigo, Tim Dagostine, David Haden, Edward Howard III, Christie Kinsey, Dale Lowther, Joseph McDonie, Wyatt Scaggs, Dr. Joseph B. Touma, Dr. Marty Amerikaner, Miriah Young and Duncan Waugaman.

Ex-officio, non-voting members of the search committee will include Gary G. White, interim president; A. Michael Perry; board of governors member emeritus; and Dr. Paul L. Hill, chancellor of the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission (HEPC).

The board also selected AGB Search, Inc., to assist the university with the search process. AGB’s services will include assisting with preparation of the position announcement, creating a national advertising strategy, collecting resumes, screening applicants for the minimum qualifications, providing the selection committee with resumes of applicants who meet the minimum qualifications, conducting background and credential checks, and providing the search committee with other advice and assistance as required.

Layton Cottrill, Marshall’s general counsel, said, “Given the positive momentum and unprecedented success that Marshall University experienced under President Kopp’s leadership and continues to experience with Interim President White, and given that the president acts as the university’s CEO and the official advisor to and executive agent of the board and its executive committee, the board determined it is essential that the search procedure for the permanent president be swift, effective and thorough.”

To that end, the board also adopted the following search procedures, which achieve those goals and comply with HEPC rules:

Input from Constituencies:  The board of governors and search committee will solicit the input of Marshall University constituencies concerning the best characteristics and qualities for the presidential position, which will be used in the selection and evaluation of the candidates.

Position Announcement:  The position announcement shall be prepared detailing the characteristics and qualities sought in the new president and distributed nationally to appropriate newspapers and other media sources, heads of higher education associations and organizations, and other appropriate individuals for the purpose of advertising the position. At a minimum, it will be posted on the university’s website, sent as part of a news release to the media, and placed in advertisements in appropriate local, state and national publications.

Selection Process:  Following the deadline for receipt of presidential nominations and applications, the search committee will receive from the search firm/consultant the resumes of the applicants and/or nominees who meet the minimum qualifications of the search. The search committee will determine the applicants and/or nominees who will move forward through the search process.

Interim President White will not be considered as a candidate for the presidency.

It will be the ultimate responsibility of the search committee to identify no less than three and not more than five candidate finalists to be interviewed on campus.

On-campus Interviews of Finalists:  Interviews with the finalists, as determined by the search committee and governing board, shall be conducted on campus, and during the campus visits, students, classified employees, non-classified employees, faculty, campus administrators, community leaders, alumni and other individuals shall be invited to meet with the candidates, and their comments will be solicited and evaluated by the governing board.

Confidentiality:  Members of the governing board, or any search committee appointed, may not provide information about the names or backgrounds of any candidates, without their consent, to anyone who is not a member of the governing board or search committee, or authorized agents or staff as designated in the search procedures approved by the Higher Education Policy Commission. When candidates are invited to a preliminary interview with the search committee, they will be notified of the conditions under which confidentiality may be waived as to background checks and that in the event they are invited for a campus interview, their names and backgrounds will be publicly released at the time they accept an invitation for a formal campus visit.

Timeframe:  It is the ultimate goal of the board of governors to have the new president selected by the 2015 fall semester.

Implementation:  Prior to implementation, these procedures must be approved by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission.

A website at is being set up to make information available as the search proceeds. An online feedback form will be available for people to provide input.