Search committee submits 4 finalists for chancellor position


Daily Egyptian file photo

By Luke Nozicka

The committee tasked with searching for the next permanent leader at the Carbondale campus has submitted four finalists to the university’s top officials.

Laurie Achenbach, dean of the College of Science who chaired the Chancellor Search Advisory Committee, on Friday said the group sent SIU President Randy Dunn and the SIU Board of Trustees four names of people they say should be considered for the chancellor position.

The 18-person search committee, created by Dunn in October to help find candidates to fill the position held by interim Chancellor Brad Colwell, met seven times for two to three hours each, Achenbach said. The group interviewed seven semi-finalists via Skype in January, February and March.


Achenbach said the committee was looking for candidates who showed a strong commitment to student success and diversity, displayed experience in strategic planning and possessed the ability to form a vision for the campus. The 18 committee members, four of whom are students, were also seeking candidates who demonstrated fiscal responsibility, she said.

“I think, like anyone on campus, I would like to see someone who has the fortitude to steer us through these increasingly difficult financial times,” Achenbach said of what she personally hopes for in the next chancellor.

In the past 20 years, the university’s largest campus has had 11 different leaders, including one year when Dunn filled the position along with his regular duties as the university president. During those years, the longest sitting chancellor was Walter Wendler, who held the post from 2001 to 2006.

Others remained in the position for far fewer years, such as Fernando Treviño and Jo Ann E. Argersinger, who each served as chancellor for a year.

Achenbach said she would like to see the next chancellor stay in the position for longer.

“We need that stability at the upper levels — especially now,” she said.

The committee is now tasked with developing the questions and selecting the panelists for the on-campus interviews, which are expected to take place in April. Dunn and the board of trustees will decide who is invited for on-campus interviews, and are able to select additional candidates, Achenbach said.


The university spent less than $10,000 on advertisements for the position, which Achenbach said is likely more than was spent on the last search. Officials in November said ads were placed in print and online editions of numerous outlets, including The Chronicle of Higher Education and Diverse Issues in Higher Education.

The group decided not to use an outside consultant for the search.

The previous search for a permanent chancellor was initiated after the death of interim Chancellor Paul Sarvela in November 2014. That search was suspended in June 2015 after the preferred candidate withdrew from consideration, citing concerns over the state’s budget impasse.

Achenbach, who served on that search committee, said it is always a concern that candidates could pull out, but she has no reason to believe the four finalists selected this time would.

Dunn, who acted as president and chancellor after Sarvela’s death, appointed Colwell to the interim position in October 2015. Colwell, whose appointment was approved by the board of trustees for up to two years, makes $295,000 a year before benefits.

About 20 years before his appointment, Colwell worked across the hall from Dunn as an assistant professor in SIUC’s department of education administration and higher education.

It is unclear if Colwell applied for the permanent position, but has said he hoped to be considered.

Achenbach would not comment when asked about the four candidates.

The finalist is expected to take over July 1, officials have said.

Staff writer Luke Nozicka can be reached at 618-536-3325, [email protected] or on Twitter @lukenozicka.

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