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GS presidential search adds town hall sessions
Search firm receiving applications for university’s top job
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The campus committee searching for candidates to be Georgia Southern University’s next president will hold two more listening sessions next week on the Statesboro and Armstrong campuses.

Both sessions, billed as early evening “town hall” meetings, are open to the public, as well as students, faculty and staff. The Statesboro campus session will be held Thursday, Oct. 18, from 5:30 p.m. until 7 p.m. in Room 1012 of the new Interdisciplinary Academic Building. Opened just last month, this is the three-story building beside the Carroll Building on the Pedestrium, and not far from the Henderson Library.

The Armstrong campus meeting will be held Wednesday, Oct. 17, also 5:30-7 p.m., in University Hall, Room 158 in Savannah.

Back on Sept. 10, the Presidential Search and Screen Committee held a series of listening sessions on the Statesboro campus, followed by similar sessions Sept. 11 on the Armstrong campus and Sept. 12 on the Liberty Campus in Hinesville. After sessions for students, faculty and staff, the only session on the Statesboro campus designated to include community members was held at 3 p.m. on a Monday, and at least one attendee suggested holding an evening or weekend meeting for community members.

“Multiple listening sessions have been part of the process from the outset,” Dustin Anderson, Ph.D., the committee’s chair, said in an emailed reply this week. “As I said during the first sessions, the committee will be taking feedback from the university community throughout the review process. Hearing additional feedback at each stage of our process is informative to the committee.”

In the earlier sessions, much of the input was about qualities and qualifications people hope to see in Georgia Southern’s next executive leader. In a departure from past GS presidential searches, the committee has chosen to use a confidential search process. This means there will be no public forums with selected candidates before the committee submits its unranked list of three to five finalists to the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia.


The survey says …

The committee also will accept survey responses until shortly before its interviews with applicants, Anderson wrote. A link to the survey can be found on the search committee’s internet page,

He responded to questions the Statesboro Herald submitted through GS Communications Director Jennifer Wise, who forwarded Anderson’s reply.

“These sessions add perspective for the committee,” Anderson wrote. “As we collect information, we can better identify patterns in those responses. The more voices that we hear from, the more accurately we can gauge and then evaluate who our best candidates out of our pool would be for our university. This process is not about just finding someone well-qualified for the job; it is about finding the right fit for Georgia Southern.”

The survey questions suggest the kind of input the committee is seeking. The first question is, “What is the agenda for your new president? What must he or she accomplish in the first 2-3 years in order for him or her and the entire institution to be successful?”

Another survey item asks why someone would want the job, in terms of why Georgia Southern would be “a great place to contribute in a leadership role.” The survey has six open-ended questions plus a seventh space for “other comments.”


Leadership profile

In fact, the search firm Witt/Kieffer has already advertised both a job description and a leadership profile for the GS president position. These can be found through another link on the search committee’s page.

“The university seeks a charismatic, visionary president who will champion the institution’s mission and lead it forward to heightened recognition and visibility,” states a central passage of the leadership profile. “The 2018 consolidation of Georgia Southern University and Armstrong State University provides a unique and exciting opportunity for the next president to mold the new Georgia Southern identity into a coherent and inspirational whole. …”

Witt/Kieffer is already receiving applications, Anderson confirmed. The job notice gives a Nov. 9 deadline for application or nomination materials to receive “fullest consideration.”

The 18-member committee that Anderson chairs was appointed by University System of Georgia Chancellor Steve Wrigley. It includes faculty and staff members, student government representatives and also business people and alumni.

When they met Aug. 29 to organize, Wrigley instructed the committee to deliver a list of three to five qualified candidates without ranking them. The Board of Regents, which has a special committee of its own assigned, will hire the new GS president with Wrigley’s recommendation.


December goal

Also in August, Wrigley said he would “love to see” the list arrive before Christmas.

“The committee’s goal is to have the list of three to five unranked finalists submitted to the Regent's Special Selection Committee in December,” Anderson responded this week, after being asked if this is still possible.

After two years as Georgia Southern’s president, through the consolidation, Jaimie Hebert, Ph.D., left in June to take the job of provost and vice president for academic affairs at his alma mater, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Shelley C. Nickel, previously the University System of Georgia’s executive vice chancellor, is serving as Georgia Southern’s interim president.

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



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