With at least 25 strongly interested candidates so far, the search remains on track to have Georgia Southern University’s next president in place by July 1, said Dr. Stephen Vives, who chairs the campus search committee.
“Mid-February is when we have targeted to have looked at credentials and be conducting airport interviews in Atlanta,” Vives said Wednesday.
A tentative timeline posted early last fall predicted a first round of interviews in early February, followed by campus interviews in mid-February. But with Jan. 28 as the soft deadline for candidates to submit their resumes and other documents, the committee now expects to hold each phase of interviews about two weeks later.
Dr. Brooks Keel’s resignation last summer, after five and a half years as Georgia Southern’s president, set the process in motion. Keel started his new job as president of Georgia Regents University in Augusta on July 20, and soon guided that university through a renaming. It’s now simply Augusta University.
Committee members will first meet probably eight to 12 candidates, Vives explained, for interviews in the vicinity of Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
“It’s a way to create a short list, to select the folks who would come to campus for visits,” he said.
Five selected candidates will be invited to the GSU campus in Statesboro “to meet different stakeholder groups,” such as faculty, staff and students, probably at the end of February or in early March, Vives said.
Vives, a professor who also chairs the university’s biology department, heads the 18-member Presidential Search and Screen Committee, appointed by the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia. The regents also retained Parker Executive Search, and the firm is receiving the applications directly at its Atlanta offices.
On Wednesday, the timeline at www.georgiasouthern.edu/presidential-search was updated, and now shows a first round of interviews Feb. 17-18 and semifinalists’ campus visits the weeks of Feb. 29 and March 7. A link to the position description appears on the webpage.
The campus committee’s task is not to name a president or select a single finalist. Instead, University System Chancellor Hank Huckaby directed the committee to identify a list of three to five people who would be acceptable in the post, without ranking them.
After receiving the list, the Board of Regents will select the new president.
The job announcement allows potential candidates to apply for themselves or be nominated by other people. The number of applicants at this point remains fluid because the search firm talks with the nominees, who then decide whether to send in full application materials, Vives said.
“We have at least 25 indicating a strong level of interest,” he said when asked to say whether there are more than 50 or more than 25 applicants so far.
More applicants expected
But Vives expects more applications to arrive as Jan. 28 approaches. Top university leaders, like applicants for teaching jobs, he observed, often wait until just before the deadline.
Even the Jan. 28 deadline is flexible. The committee could consider later applications.
“The position is open until filled, but that is when we would start reviewing information on the applicants,” Vives said.
The committee held its most recent meeting Dec. 16 by conference call with the search firm, just to make sure everything was on track, he said.
Last fall committee members held a series of open forums and meetings for input from various groups about the qualities sought in the new GSU president. There were three such opportunities for faculty, one for staff members, one for student leaders, one with the Statesboro-Bulloch Chamber of Commerce, and one for GSU alumni.
The format for the five selected candidates’ campus visits has not been set. In the autumn of 2009, before three finalists were named and Keel was hired, six candidates visited Georgia Southern, appearing in public forums at the Performing Arts Center.
“Probably something similar would happen, but to be honest, the committee hasn’t really set the visit agenda yet,” Vives said. “That’s something that we’re working on.”
Huckaby appointed Dr. Jean Bartels, previously GSU provost and vice president for academic affairs, as the university’s interim president, effective last July 20. She is continuing in that capacity through this academic year.
Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.