Chancellor search begins with improving process

By Gus Bode

The university’s quest to land a new chancellor officially began Wednesday as the committee charged with filling the position started accepting applications.

Tom Britton, co-chair of the chancellor’s search committee, said the committee began nationally advertising the position this week in hopes of having a new chancellor in place by the middle of the spring 2010 semester.

‘ ‘We think we can do a real nice job in finding a chancellor that is a good fit for the university by involving people in the university community and changing the way we do some things,’ Britton said.

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Britton said the 19-person committee is focusing its early efforts on making the search process as transparent as possible by changing the way applicants try out for the position. The committee will also post frequent updates, such as finalists’ names or visiting dates, to its Web site.

The university also dropped its traditional practice of hiring an executive search firm, which cost the university roughly $150,000 during the 2007 chancellor search, and has chosen to hire knowledgeable advisors to help steer the committee.

‘In most cases, these advisors are people that have long connections with the university and know how it operates,’ Britton said.

Among the advisors include: Don Beggs, former SIUC Chancellor (1996-1998) and current Wichita State President; Sylvia Manning, a former chancellor at the University of Illinois at Chicago; Jim Rosser, president of California State University in Los Angeles and SIUC alum; and Kenneth Shaw, a former president of SIUE.

‘These really are high-caliber people who will be helping us identify candidates that we will pursue rather than candidates pursuing us,’ Britton said. ‘Instead of us opening the door and waiting for people to contact us, we are opening the door and we are going outside and sending high-powered people out there too.’

Britton said the committee has already received a handful of nominations, although names were not specified. Britton said none of the nominations were from within the SIU system.

The committee will accept applications until September and announce semi-finalists, which will interview in St. Louis, by the end of November.

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Priciliano Fabian, the lone student representative on the search committee, said the group has had two meetings to date to discuss potential candidate personality traits and how the committee would structure the search.

Fabian, also the president of the Undergraduate Student Government, said his ideal chancellor would be able to reach every student.

‘My role is to filter out who these potential chancellors could be and try and find out who the best candidate is for the student, not just the chancellor him or herself and not just for the faculty on campus,’ he said. ‘I’m looking for someone to go out in the distance to get the quiet student and see what they want.’

‘We’ll do a better job of reviewing credentials and backgrounds,’ he said. ‘There will be a little more time between sets of interviews to more of that kind of checking.’

The new chancellor will replace Chancellor Sam Goldman, who was appointed by SIU President Glenn Poshard on an interim basis in March 2008 following Poshard’s removal of Fernando Trevi’ntilde;o, citing poor performance.

Poshard said in May the committee would be devoted to finding a diverse set of candidates and from where the university has advertised – The Chronicle of Higher Education, Diverse Issues in Education, Women in Higher Education and the Hispanic Outlook in Education – diversity appears to be a fundamental trait of any candidate.

‘We’re the most diverse university in the state, so when we are looking for people to lead the campus, we need to encourage more diversity,’ Poshard said. ‘We haven’t done a real good job of it in the past.’

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