May 07, 2009

Advisory panel to review chancellor candidates

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A committee charged with vetting and selecting final candidates for the chancellor’s position at Southern Illinois University Carbondale will meet again next month, continuing a process aimed at filling that position with a permanent selection by next spring.

The Chancellor Search Advisory Committee is made up of a diverse group of faculty and staff, as well as representatives from outside the campus. Its tasks include forming a position description, placing advertisements, screening and interviewing candidates and forming a “short list” of top candidates. SIU President Glenn Poshard will make the final hiring decision.

Thomas C. Britton, associate professor of law in the SIU School of Law, said the committee will ensure a responsible, transparent process as it invites and screens candidates. The committee soon will launch a Web site where it will identify committee members and post all public documents, a tentative timeline for the process, general information for applicants and copies of advertisements it approves.

“We want to disclose as much information as we can within the framework of a confidential search,” Britton said. “We will only be confidential when we need to be to protect the candidates.

“We want the candidates to feel confident that only the names of the finalists who are brought to campus for interviews will be made public. We also want to ensure that the committee’s deliberations are held in confidence,” he said.

The committee will meet in June to finalize a position description and create and approve advertisements. It will place the ads shortly after meeting, setting a deadline for fullest consideration in the process.

This fall, the committee will conduct due diligence, examining each candidate’s education, academic credentials, work experience and background. It also will conduct interviews with select candidates, hopefully selecting finalists and scheduling campus visits late this year.

Britton, who is co-chair of the committee with Peggy Stockdale, professor of psychology, said the committee has an important task.

“We want to make sure we do a very thorough review of credentials, background and leadership experience of the candidates,” he said. “We want to move with some dispatch, but we won’t take shortcuts for the sake of a deadline.”

The committee members each will bring a different perspective to the process, Britton said.

“It’s a good, diverse committee, and it’s a constituency-based committee,” he said. “It reflects the values and priorities of the University.”

Along with those diverse views, there also are some general qualities the committee agrees on, he said.

“We want someone with proven leadership qualities and experience,” Britton said. “The person needs strong academic credentials, must be sensitive to the culture of SIUC and must be comfortable working in a climate that emphasizes research and champions high-quality undergraduate education in a diverse climate.”

If all goes as planned, Britton said he hopes Poshard will be able to make a final selection by spring break of 2010, with the permanent chancellor starting work that summer or fall.

“Having a permanent leader at SIUC is really important,” he said. “Our job is to give the president a choice from a pool of high-quality, diverse candidates.”

Along with Stockdale and Britton, members of the committee are:

•Philip C. Howze, professor of library affairs

• Karen Renzaglia, associate professor of plant biology and associate dean in the College of Science

• James S. Ferraro, associate professor of physiology, SIU School of Medicine

• Allan L. Karnes, professor of accountancy

• Stacia Robertson, assistant professor, SIUC Rehabilitation Institute

•Anne Fletcher, associate professor of theater

• Morteza Daneshdoost, professor of electrical and computer engineering

• Keith E. Wilson, senior lecturer, aviation management and flight

•Donald E. Castle, assistant director, SIUC Student Center

• Mark J. Wetstein, television production coordinator, SIUC Broadcasting Service

•Steven C. Middleton, graduate assistant, SIUC Student Development

• Gary L. Minish, dean, College of Agricultural Sciences

• Randy Ragan, alumnus, Springfield

• Pamela K. Pfeffer, alumna, Nashville, Tenn.

• Brad Cole, mayor, City of Carbondale

• John S. Haller, SIU retiree, ex-officio

The University also has extended an invitation for undergraduate student representation, but that representative has not yet been identified.