Committee refines president search

Emily Pagel

The Presidential Search Advisory Committee held a meeting yesterday to update the Northern Michigan University community on the presidential search.

Chairman of Board of Trustees Rick Popp and Chairwoman of Presidential Search Advisory Committee Sook Wilkinson discuss the qualities they are looking for in the next NMU president on Wednesday, Feb. 12. (Emily Pagel NW)
Chairman of Board of Trustees Rick Popp and Chairwoman of Presidential Search Advisory Committee Sook Wilkinson discuss the qualities they are looking for in the next NMU president on Wednesday, Feb. 12. (Emily Pagel NW)

The meeting was held Wednesday, Feb. 12 in the Pioneer A Room of the University Center and consisted of three members. Chairman of Board of Trustees Rick Popp, Chairwoman of Presidential Search Advisory Committee (PSAC) Sook Wilkinson and Garnett Lewis were in attendance to discuss the process of the search.

According to the PSAC, the presidential search is on its tentative schedule.

“The best news is that the search is on track,” Wilkinson said. “It is going very, very well. I had a chance to talk with our consultant Kate Haley and she’s very pleased with the pool of candidates who have come in so far.”

Wilkinson said according to the report by Haley, senior consultant of Witt/Kieffer Higher Education Practice, there is still a month left until the Monday, March 3 deadline for candidates to apply. Haley said the best candidates usually appear during the final month of the search.

“Once she has compiled all these candidates, she will be creating a website so the search committee members can access the resumes of these applicants,” Haley said in the report. “The PSAC will review all the applications very carefully and on Monday, March 10 the committee will be meeting to select seven to nine semi-finalist.”

According to Wilkinson, the committee wants the presidential search to be open to a diverse amount of candidates.

“I think our search is a broad comprehensive national process,” Wilkinson said. “We want to cast as wide a net to invite as many qualified people to send in their applications to make sure that we go through the scrutiny of going through and interviewing applicants and finally coming up with the best qualified few so that we will have the most qualified choices.”

During the process of the presidential search, Popp said the committee is focusing on bringing diversity of the community into the search.

“The interesting part of a process like this is the diverse group, diverse campus and diverse community,” Popp said. “In this process you see where there’s alignment no matter which group that is and where you see that alignment it’s critical and you need to nail that.

“Is there ever a perfect fit? Never, because you have different desires and needs and people place different values in university and different degrees of importance. I think if you have a good inclusive process and you have diverse perspectives and understand those perspectives it’s almost like you can’t go wrong.”

When searching for a new candidate for NMU president, Wilkinson said the committee is looking for a wide variety of qualities that will match NMU’s characteristics for students and the community.

“There are a lot of qualities that we’re looking for,” Wilkinson said. “The person really needs to have communication skills, ability to strategize and have vision for the university. They also have to have the kind of personal qualities where they can get along a variety of people from students to faculty.

“Someone that has knowledge about enrollment because that is a big issue in higher education right now. Also someone who has a proven track record on improvement and development because with the dwindling finances the state support, it’s critical that we have fund development.”

Wilkinson also said the committee hopes for a large participation from the NMU community.

“We’re hoping that during campus visits that all the constituent groups will come out and have a chance to hear the candidate to ask questions and make suggestions,” Wilkinson said. “I would say not only the Board of Trustees who makes the final decision, but I hope that everyone will come out and meet the candidates.”

The PSAC will then conduct in person interviews with the semi-finalist before presenting the candidates to the NMU community.

“We’ll have campus interviews with the finalists questions,” Wilkinson said. “Hopefully two to four candidates and all of you will have a chance to meet these people, and have a chance to talk with them, hear their thoughts and their visions, and hopefully some of the information of them personally.”

According to Wilkinson, the Presidential Search Advisory Committee and Board of Trustee’s goal is to have a new president in place by Tuesday, July 1, 2014.

“The committee and the board is very committed to do it right and do the right thing along the process,” Wilkinson said. “We want every constituent group on and off the campus to have a voice. It’s very important because every group will be affected by the new president and every group is important to campus at Northern so it’s critical.”

Students and NMU community can learn more about the presidential search and tentiave time line at www.nmu.edu/presidentialsearch or contacting Haley at  [email protected]

“It’s not too late for the students, if they have any thoughts, to let us know,” Wilkinson said. “The student thought and involvement is very critical because the university is here for the students.”