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Search for new ECSU chancellor draws 25 — so far

033018 Harold Barnes

Harold Barnes

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By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Friday, October 19, 2018

About 25 people — and counting — have put their names forward in hopes of being hired as the next chancellor at Elizabeth City State University.

“We expect the applicant pool to grow every day and every week,” ECSU Chancellor Search Committee Chairman Harold Barnes said Thursday.

The search committee met Thursday morning with representatives of the firm Isaacson, Miller, which is assisting the committee and the University of North Carolina System with the chancellor search, to begin discussing two-dozen applicants’ relative strengths.

The committee’s plan still is to have the names of three finalists to present to the ECSU Board of Trustees in December. It will then be up to trustees to submit three names to UNC System President Margaret Spellings, who then will select one of the three finalists and take her recommendation to the UNC Board of Governors in January.

Bud Moseley of Isaacson, Miller said the purpose of Thursday’s meeting was to begin looking at specific candidates and identify those the committee would like the search firm to learn more about.

Barnes said the committee began ranking candidates Thursday and will meet again in early November to narrow down the field. He expects the committee to have winnowed its choices to 4-6 candidates by late November. From that smaller pool the committee then will select the three finalists to recommend to the Board of Trustees.

A small number of candidates will be brought to the ECSU campus for a visit, and a number of people from the community will be invited to meet them, Barnes said. In order to keep the process confidential, those residents will sign an agreement not to reveal the candidates’ names, he explained.

Barnes said the confidentiality agreement is intended to protect the candidates, probably all of whom will have current jobs.

“We’re not trying to keep anything from the public,” he said.

Deran Whitney, superintendent of public schools in Suffolk, Virginia, and a member of the committee, said that, based on the information currently available, it doesn’t appear possible to measure the candidates for some of the skills and abilities the committee is looking for.

Moseley agreed that some important qualities such as communication and public presence are difficult to evaluate right now. He said that in some cases, however, members of the committee will know something about a particular candidate and that information can be helpful.

The search firm has made its own assessment of candidates and shared that information with the search committee.

Kennis Wilkins, a search committee and member of the ECSU Board of Trustees, asked Moseley if the list of candidates could actually grow longer by the November meeting, since new candidates might be coming forward even as the original list is being shortened.

Moseley confirmed that was correct — new candidates will continue to be added.

Moseley said candidates who have applied for the chancellor’s job in the first three and a half weeks since a “leadership profile” was published are those who are especially eager to seek the position or have been “waiting in the wings” to apply.

Lynn Duffy, UNC System senior associate vice president for leadership and development, reiterated to the committee the importance of keeping the process confidential. She said the purpose of the search is to find the best leader for ECSU for the long term.

“We want you to keep an open mind,” Duffy said.

Duffy also updated the committee on changes to chancellor search procedures that were approved last month by the UNC Board of Governors. She noted the changes don’t apply to this search because it was started before the new rules were adopted.

“The policies were changed but they don’t pertain to us,” Duffy said.

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