Next university president to be asked to build upon experiential learning, outreach

October 18, 2007

Update: Indiana State University's Presidential Search Committee will host two public forums to gain input from interested persons regarding desired attributes of the 11th president of Indiana State University.

The first forum will be Monday, Nov. 12 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the College of Technology, Room 105. The second will be on Monday, Nov. 19 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Hulman Memorial Student Union, Dede III.

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The next president of Indiana State University must be able to further refine and develop the university’s niche of experiential learning and community outreach, members of the Presidential Search Committee said during their first meeting Thursday (Oct. 18).

Before identifying desired attributes for Indiana State’s 11th president, the committee first spent time identifying what sets Indiana State apart from other universities.

Those qualities include a caring faculty-student relationship, undergraduate and graduate students conducting research alongside professors and a campus that is dedicated to community engagement ��" an environment not found at larger or smaller institutions, members of the 15-member panel said.

“As we identify the traits we’re looking for in a new president, we must also look at how we present ourselves as an institution,” said ISU trustee and search committee Chairman Ron Carpenter. “There are a lot of good things going on at this university and in this city. We have an opportunity for a new beginning.”

The next president must be open and accessible, must engender trust and confidence and be able to work cooperatively with a variety of constituents: students, alumni, faculty, staff, donors and community, the committee said.

“The president should be able to have lunch in the Commons with 10 students and have it not seem awkward,” said committee member A.J. Patton, Student Government Association president.

ISU’s new leader will be expected to build upon the distinctive identity for which the university has become known during the leadership of current President Lloyd W. Benjamin III, committee members said.

“There are pockets of greatness on this campus. It’s time to rally the greatness and head in a single direction,” said search committee member Brad Balch, dean of ISU’s College of Education.

Whoever becomes the next president, the spirit of cooperation that has developed in recent years between the campus and the community must continue, said Terre Haute Mayor Kevin Burke.

“I shamelessly asked to serve on this committee because ISU is the city’s No. 1 employer. Together we can accomplish far more than we could independently. I see this partnership going even farther than we could dream of,” Burke said. Committee members vow the search will be as open as possible, with significant opportunity for input early on from students, faculty and staff, the Terre Haute community and beyond.

Thursday’s meeting was open to the public and future committee meetings will remain open until members begin reviewing individual candidates, Carpenter said.

A series of two or three “town hall” meetings will be scheduled within the next month to allow input from faculty, staff and students as well as the Terre Haute community on the type of individual ISU needs as a leader in an increasingly competitive higher education market, he said.

A Web site will soon be launched to provide updates on the search process and allow public input, said Melony Sacopulos, university counsel and secretary of the university and an ex-officio member of the search committee.

The search consultant firm R. William Funk and Associates, which has been involved in approximately 300 searches for university presidents and provosts over the past 25 years, is assisting in the search process.

“We are using a national search firm to maximize our reach and assist us in the selection process,” Carpenter said.

With the average tenure of public university presidents now only four to six years, such searches have become highly competitive, making the active recruitment of potential candidates vital, said consultant Bill Funk.

“We have found that the best individuals are often those who haven’t thought about making a move,” he said.

While his firm plans to send letters to a proprietary list of more than 600 persons who appear qualified for the position, Indiana State can expect between 40 and 60 active, viable candidates, Funk said.

The search committee will submit a list of three to five finalists to the ISU Board of Trustees, which will make the final selection. A new president is expected to be hired next spring, to take office July 1, 2008.

Benjamin, ISU’s president since 2000, announced earlier this year that he would be stepping aside from the presidency at the end of his current contract on June 30.

Anyone interested in nominating an individual for consideration may do so by contacting R. William Funk and Associates atkrisha.creal@rwilliamfunk.com.

Contact: Ron Carpenter, university trustee and presidential search committee chair, Indiana State University, rondcarp@childrensbureau.org

Writer: Dave Taylor, media relations director, Indiana State University, (812) 237-3743 or dave.taylor@indstate.edu

Story Highlights

The next president of Indiana State University must be able to further refine and develop the university's niche of experiential learning and community outreach, members of the Presidential Search Committee said.

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