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Shepherd University presidential search gets underway

By Staff | May 1, 2015

Shepherd University’s presidential search is getting underway in a big way locally, especially since a recruiting firm has been hired and is now helping facilitate meetings with students, faculty, staff and even community members to help determine what they want in a new president.

Dr. Jessica Kozloff, president of Academic Search, which is based in Washington, D.C., helped facilitate four sessions Thursday that included meeting with the school’s administrative council, faculty, students and community members.

There will be two additional sessions today, including one with academic department chairs, followed by an open session beginning at noon.

Transparency is an important part of the process; it’s also vital to insure confidentiality for potential job candidates, since many are already employed and can’t risk being named in a public way too early in this effort to replace outgoing president Dr. Suzanne Shipley.

Shipley is leaving after nearly eight years to become the next president at Midwestern State in Texas, and will conclude her service at Shepherd in mid-summer.

“We are excited about being involved in this process; because we certainly know the area as well as the incredible story of what’s been happening here in the last seven years. It is not only a wonderful university, but also an important part of the fabric of this community,” Kozloff said.

“So that kind of informs us about what we will be looking for as we try to target and recruit people to make the best possible match. We definitely want someone who is going to have an appreciation for this community,” she said.

During the public phase of the search, a minimum of three candidates will be brought to town and have an opportunity to meet university students, staff and faculty as well as interested local people, Kozloff said.

Search Committee Chairperson Dr. Marcia Brand, who also serves as Shepherd University Board of Governors vice chairperson, said the emphasis is on selecting the best possible candidate, but also stressed that the process has barely begun.

The overall goal for now is to “gather input on the characteristics and qualities desired for the next president,” she said.

“As a result, we do think it is important to hear from folks about what they think is important in a leader, as well as perhaps what they don’t want to see,” Brand said.

University staffer Jess Oswald, who works for Residence Life, said she understands Shipley’s decision to leave, adding that it makes both “personal and professional sense” to move home to Texas.

Oswald said she is also impressed with the openness of the replacement process, especially the open forums now being held.

“They seem to want our input, and I think that is really great instead of just asking a small group of people,” she said.

Freshman Anthony Henley said he has a good impression of Shipley, especially since she personally helped fix a problem relating to his coming to school here.

“I mean, I was just a little nobody and she was not only interested, but got it fixed. So I would definitely like to see another president who cares about the students and is accessible to us,” he said.

Sarah Chapman, a freshman who is majoring in business administration, agreed that it is also important for the university to be basically the same – even after a new president arrives.

Graduate assistant Michael Golze, who will be graduating in about two weeks with his master’s degree, said he still cares about who will be hired even though he’ll no longer be a student.

“I do think the process they have already started is great, because feedback from the students and faculty is important. We want someone who will respect them,” he said.

At a special meeting held late last month, Shepherd University Board of Governors members adopted a set of search procedures which were forwarded to the Higher Education Policy Commission for approval. At that time, they also agreed to work with an external firm to help designate an interim president as well as search for a new president.

Other search committee members include: Jim Auxer (Shepherdstown mayor), Dow Benedict (School of Arts and Humanities, dean), Gat Caperton (former member and chair, SU Board of Governors), Dr. Paul Hill (West Virginia High Education Policy Commission chancellor), Ramona Kissel (advancement associate), Monica Lockett (Canterbury Center executive director), Caitlin O’Connor (Student Government Association vice president), Andrew Price (graduate student, CSDA Program and hall director, Shaw-Miller Halls), D. Scott Roach (Shepherd University Board of Governors member), Jack Shaw (assistant vice president for Auxiliary Enterprises), Paula Wamsley (administrative assistant, Finance) and Dr. John Younis (Shepherd University Board of Governors secretary).