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ECSU search panel looking for strongest field

033018 Harold Barnes

Harold Barnes

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By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Members of the Elizabeth City State University Chancellor Search Committee last week made clear they don’t want to miss any opportunity to find the perfect leader for ECSU.

The committee discussed details of the search process last, all of them designed to make sure ECSU doesn’t miss out on finding just the right person to be the university’s chancellor.

Likely the most time-consuming part of the process will be reviewing resumes from applicants. Search firm Isaacson, Miller, which is working with ECSU and the University of North Carolina System on the search, will review and screen resumes and recommend candidates to the committee.

But the firm’s Monroe ”Bud” Moseley pointed out that committee members will have access to resumes submitted by applicants and should let the firm’s associates know if they believe they have made the wrong call in not selecting one of the candidates. Someone on the committee may recognize something on a resume that the search firm did not consider in the proper context, he said.

Moseley encouraged the committee members during their meeting last Monday to recognize that they have important insight into what the institution needs in a chancellor and to exercise their discernment to the fullest.

The search firm also is identifying additional candidates in an effort to have the strongest possible candidate pool.

Keight Kennedy of the search firm told the committee that the firm was already beginning to source people from its networks. Those networks consist largely of people they have met through previous searches.

The committee is planning to interview 8-10 candidates over two full days of interviews at the end of November, in preparation for recommending three candidates to the ECSU Board of Trustees at the board’s Dec. 11 meeting.

Part of the process of narrowing the field will be bringing five or so top candidates to the campus to meet with key community leaders. The committee will consider those leaders’ input in recommending the slate of names to the trustees.

A document prepared by Isaacson, Miller and distributed to the committee at the Sept. 17 meeting encourages committee members to focus interview questions on how candidates have handled past challenges.

“In general, it is better to inquire about the candidate’s past experience rather than encourage speculation as to what the candidate would do as chancellor at ECSU,” the document states. “You want to be in a position to infer from a good understanding of what the candidate has done the appropriateness of the match for this role. While you should expect candidates to speak thoughtfully about their emerging vision for ECSU, your most useful learning will link their thoughts about the future with concrete challenges and accomplishments from their past.”

Chancellor Search Committee Chairman Harold  Barnes said he wants to be sure ECSU finds a chancellor who will strengthen the university’s relationship with K-12 school districts in the region. 

In discussing the draft leadership profile that will be used in informing potential candidates about the search — a document intended to provide a detailed description of what the search committee is looking for in the next chancellor — Barnes mentioned that he wanted the leadership profile’s list of “key stakeholders” the chancellor should engage comfortably and effectively to include K-12 school districts.

Other stakeholders identified in the profile include alumni, business leaders, civic leaders and residents of northeastern North Carolina.

Committee members also expressed concern that the ideal candidate not slip away because of compensation. The search firm said that is not expected to be a problem.

ECSU Trustee Kennis Wilkins, who is a member of the search committee, asked whether salary might be an obstacle to getting the ideal chancellor.

Moseley said the salary range is broad enough that salary shouldn’t be a problem. He said that in searches he does salary almost never becomes a deciding factor. A much more common deal-breaker than salary, he said, is for candidates to have children at home who don’t want to move to a new town.

The University of North Carolina System salary range for the ECSU chancellor is $285,000 - $386,000.

UNC System President Margaret Spellings has stated previously that in her time as president, salary had never been an issue in finding the right person for an institution.

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