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GS president hiring possible this week
Official pronouncements don’t say how many applied
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The campus-based search committee sent a short list of applicants deemed qualified to be Georgia Southern University's next president to the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia before the end of 2018.

The full board will hold its first meeting of 2019 Wednesday, but whether the new GS president will be announced remains to be seen. Regents Chairman Don Waters said that a special committee made up of the regents' own members would meet this week for intensive interviews with those on the list, The Associated Press reported over the weekend.

Separate from the regents' special committee, the campus-based Presidential Search and Screen Committee was tasked to conduct the national search with assistance from Witt/Kieffer Inc. and to forward an unranked list of three to five candidates to the Board of Regents. In a December notice to the university communities, committee chair Dustin Anderson, Ph.D., reported that the list had been sent.

"Our committee was able to stay on schedule to deliver our list of candidates to the Regent's Special Committee this month," Anderson wrote. "We would not have been able to do this without your help, especially at the early stages of our search process. I am confident that we have put forward candidates who can represent and genuinely speak to our entire — our unique — university."

How many?

However, his statement did not say whether three, four or five candidates were listed.

"We received applications from across the country (and beyond) from a significant number of candidates — our search took in roughly double the number of applications from our most recent presidential searches," Anderson also wrote in the December notice. "The privacy that our search offered allowed us to receive applications from a record number of sitting presidents as well as members of our own university community."

But the notice stated no count, exact or approximate, of how many people applied or were nominated, or how many were university presidents. As of Monday, Georgia Southern and University System of Georgia spokespersons had not supplied any numbers, either.

Anderson has not replied to a voicemail message left through his office phone last week. Georgia Southern University Director of Communications Jennifer Wise referred the reporter to Jen Ryan, University System of Georgia vice chancellor for communications. 

"This is an ongoing process and I have no additional information to offer at this time," Ryan emailed Monday.

Specific questions to her had included how many applications were received, how many were university system presidents and whether there were three, four or five candidates on the short list.

Closed search

In a departure from other recent Georgia Southern presidential searches, the campus committee adopted a confidential final-round procedure, with no public forums to be held introducing the finalists to the university and public. University system staff members recommended this method as a way to get more current university presidents and other executives in potentially sensitive positions to apply.

The campus committee did hold input forums last fall in Georgia Southern's three campus communities, Statesboro, Savannah and Hinesville. These forums were meant to give university employees, students, alumni and members of the local public an opportunity to say what qualities they wanted in the new president and to suggest priorities in marketing the university to the applicants.

A search became necessary when Jaimie Hebert, Ph.D., resigned effective June 30, 2018, after two years as Georgia Southern's president. During that time he helped guide the university through its consolidation with the former Armstrong State University. 

Shelley C. Nickel, previously the university system's executive vice chancellor for strategy and fiscal affairs, is serving as Georgia Southern's interim president. 

Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.

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