University search for provost on schedule

The 17-member provost search committee, established by President Randy Dunn during November, has met several times since its creation and has begun establishing the criteria necessary to evaluate the applications the University will receive for the position.

The committee was charged with finding a new provost and vice president of Academic Affairs after Bonnie Higginson announced her resignation last semester. Higginson’s resignation will take effect June 30, and following it she plans on returning as a professor to the College of Education.

The provost search committee includes a representative from each academic college and school, and includes members of other various constituencies on campus.

Faculty Regent Jack Rose, chair of the committee, said it was an honor to lead the committee as he and Higginson had worked together for many years. He said the person who would take her place would need the same disposition and desire to make academia succeed and to make sure the faculty are appropriately represented.

Jeremiah Johnson, Student Government Association president from Hopkinsville, Ky., said a new provost would have their hands full with the upcoming reaccreditation process and the finalization of other programs.

“This individual will have some pretty big shoes to fill with Higginson leaving,” he said. “She has been amazing to work with. She has always put the students needs first when making decisions.

He said the University was losing one of its best administrators, however he said the College of Education would be gaining a fantastic professor.

Chair Rose said as the position has a greater magnitude the selection process is expected to take several months. He said the committee’s end goal is to recommend two to four finalist candidates to the president no later than mid-April.

A preliminary search calendar indicates the president will offer the top candidate from the search the position to be approved by the Board of Regents at its May 10 meeting. The new provost may start as early as July 1.

Rose said the committee met on Jan. 25 to put the final touches on a rubric that would guide the committee in selecting and sorting candidates. He said the committee would be searching for candidates who will be effective in maintaining high quality and who will move the University to even greater heights.

Sidney Anderson, junior from Carrollton, Ky., is a member of the provost search committee and said she hopes the committee is able to find someone to fill the role of provost as successfully as Higginson.

“As a student member I am able to put a students perspective in with the views and opinions of academic professionals here on campus,” she said. “Dunn saw the importance of placing a student on the committee search for just that reason – so that the students did in fact have a voice in the search.”

Anderson said the applications were due by March 1 and the committee would then be evaluating candidates as expediently as possible.

President Randy Dunn said the committee has kept on track with their schedule and he said he believes there will be a permanent replacement when the time comes.

In the event the search does take longer, he said an interim might be appointed. An alternative option, he said, might be an interim if the candidate needs more time than feasible. He said even if the delay was two to three months he would not be worried about it.

Higginson, current provost, said the caliber of this search required complete confidentiality and that the committee would likely conduct preliminary interviews off campus, much like the previous provost search committee had organized in 2010.

“The only involvement I’m likely to have is to possibly meet the candidates invited to campus,” she said.

President Dunn said that during the last search interviews were conducted in Nashville, but at this time the committee was looking at doing the first initial round of interviews using Skype. He said this will hopefully shorten the amount of time required and will also save the University money.

According to the position advertisement in The Chronicle of Higher Education, among the many requirements of applicants is a doctorate degree or other appropriate terminal degree from an accredited institution, appointment at the rank of professor with tenure, senior-level administrative experience and demonstrated experience in development and implementation of new academic programs.

Story by Chris Wilcox, Chief Copy Editor.