ECSU looks to have new chancellor by February


By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Elizabeth City State University and the University of North Carolina System plan to have ECSU’s next chancellor in place by February.

Setting a timetable for when the next chancellor will be hired was one of the items of business for the Chancellor Search Committee, which met for the first time on Thursday. The panel’s 17 members include ECSU trustees, local government representatives in northeastern North Carolina, and leaders in both business and education.

Although February is the target date for having the chancellor in place, UNC System President Margaret Spellings, who attended Thursday’s meeting, said the top priority is to select the right person.

“It’s more important to have the right person in place than to meet a timetable,” Spellings said.

Lynn Duffy, senior associate vice president for leadership and talent development for the UNC System, underscored that idea during her presentation to the committee about the search process.

“We’re not going to sacrifice quality for the calendar,” Duffy said.

Harold Barnes, an ECSU trustee who chairs the search committee, said the university’s next leader needs to be someone who will serve the university’s mission of changing people’s lives through education.

“What we do here at the university is that we change people’s lives,” Barnes said.

He said the public will have plenty of opportunities to weigh in on what it wants to see in the next chancellor. The panel plans to hold between four and six community forums, both in Elizabeth City and other parts of the university’s 21-county service area in northeastern North Carolina, he said. Barnes said Facebook streaming and other technology as needed will be used to ensure that alumni and others who are interested in the process but live outside the area have an opportunity to participate.

Duffy said forums are important because they engage the community. “This is their chancellor,” she said.

Interested persons can also provide input through an online survey, said Bud Moseley of the executive search firm Issacson and Miller. The UNC System hired the firm to assist with the search process. Moseley said the firm will summarize input from the public in a report that will be distributed to all search committee members.

The chancellor’s position will be advertised widely online and in a number of publications, Duffy said. In addition, Issacson and Miller will look for qualified people who are not currently seeking a job but who would be strong candidates, she said.

Moseley said his firm will look not only at successful leaders at colleges and universities but also at successful leaders in government, business and the military who match the leadership profile that will be developed by the search committee over the next couple of months.

The timetable calls for the search committee to recommend three candidates to the ECSU Board of Trustees at the trustees’ December meeting. The trustees would then forward three names to Spellings for her consideration and she would expect to see approval of her selection by the UNC Board of Governors in January.

Spellings emphasized the importance of the chancellor search. “This is I believe one of the most important things that we do as a university,” she said.

Spellings said if the university gets the right leader, other things will go well.

Abdul Rasheed, a search committee member who represents ECSU’s National Alumni Association, noted he served on previous chancellor search committees. He said he hoped the next chancellor is someone who serves an extended tenure. The last chancellor, Thomas Conway, served two years, and the chancellor before him, Stacey Franklin Jones, held the job for only a year. Karrie Dixon, a longtime UNC System vice president who has worked closely with the system’s 17 institutions, currently serves as ECSU’s interim chancellor.

Near the end of Thursday’s meeting, Rasheed told Spellings that her words at the meeting would help reassure alumni that this will be a legitimate search carried out with integrity. Rasheed said some alumni have expressed concern that “we will just be handed a chancellor.”

Spellings said the process is important to being able to bring in someone who can come in with a “mantle of authority.”

“Process matters,” Spellings said in a brief interview after the meeting.

Spellings said the process is not just about finding the right person to be chancellor, but “we’re also selling a great individual on us.”

The salary range for chancellor at ECSU is $285,816 to $386,692. Spellings said in her time as president she had never seen salary be an impediment to hiring the best person for the job.

Barnes said he’s confident the UNC System will provide the resources necessary to get the very best chancellor for ECSU.