WLU New President Announcement Expected in May

West Liberty University’s search for a new president is winding down, though it’s unlikely an announcement will come within the next two weeks, according to school officials.
All four final candidates for the job have completed their requisite visits to the campus. Those in the running for the position are Tim Borchers, vice president for Academic Affairs at Peru State College (Nebraska); David Christiansen, chancellor at Penn State York; Kelly Ryan, interim chancellor at Indiana University Southeast; and Robert Smith, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Valdosta State University (California).
Following each of the candidates’ visits, those interacting with them were asked to complete a survey indicating their thoughts about the candidate.
Those surveys will be among the data analyzed when the WLU presidential search committee meets privately Monday night on campus, explained Tom Cervone, chairman of the search committee.
Also invited to attend are representatives from AGB Search, the employment consulting firm hired to conduct the job search for the next WLU president.
“I am hoping and presuming the surveys have been generated, and the search team has been gathering and compiling the information to bring to the table,” Cervone said. “We’re just going to talk out loud about what we’ve determined based on what we’ve seen, heard and read about who will be the ideal and best candidate for the next president at West Liberty University.”
While he expects there very well could be a consensus among committee members, Cervone doesn’t expect the announcement to come Monday night. The selected candidate will need to be contacted by the executive committee of the WLU Board of Governors, and negotiations will take place to determine such matters as when the candidate would be able to start, he continued.
Maureen Zambito, director of media relations at WLU, added that the school’s graduation is set for May 6, and it is unlikely the announcement of a new president would come before that time. Also, Fairmont State University is expected to announce its new president on May 10, and WLU probably will delay their announcement until after that date, she continued.
Cervone hopes Monday night’s meeting of the search committee “will yield conversation about the pros and cons, and strengths and weaknesses of each candidate.”
“Mostly, I’m interested in hearing what the campus community has to say,” he continued. “It is their president, as much as it is all of ours. We want someone who will land and begin work pronto. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done.”
Cervone commended the work of AGB, who looked at the 59 applications submitted, and considered about 35 of them “long and hard.”
They then referred the resumes of the candidates to the search committee, who with the guidance of AGB whittled the number of candidates to nine. One of them would later withdraw, according to Cervone.
The eight remaining candidates were interviewed by the committee via a video conference call, resulting in the selection of the final four candidates who visited the campus.
“AGB has been a terrific partner. I think we made a very wise decision early in this process (by hiring them),” Cervone said. “I think maybe AGB filtered out a lot of the folks who may have been qualified on paper, but are they really qualified in the room?
“AGB looked at these candidates and gave us some advice.”
Cervone doesn’t think the search committee will drag its feet on making its decision.
“We don’t want a lot of grass to grow. We want to resolve this,” he explained. “It’s been a long time coming. People are ready to put this behind them and put someone in the room who will be motivated and visible.”
Morale and trust on campus has been challenged in recent months, while leadership “has not been necessarily focused on what the campus needs and wants,” Cervone continued. The WLU BOG voted last year not to renew the contract of former President W. Franklin Evans, ending his tenure after two years. In those two years, Evans had to apologize for plagiarizing several speeches he made as president. A faculty and staff survey also showed overwhelming distrust in Evans’ leadership capabilities and personal integrity.
Cervone said the four finalists did well during their visits.
“I believe the four candidates we brought to campus represented themselves very well,” he said. “They all stood before groups and constituencies and answered questions – some more coherently than others. But they all listened to what the faculty, staff and students had to discuss. They were all engaged and energized.”