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President search progresses after sessions with general campus

In the past 10 days, four candidates visited VSU with the hopes of moving one step closer to the highly coveted position of VSU president.

If VSU’s Presidential Search and Screen Committee decides not to interview more candidates, the committee will choose three of the four candidates and submit an unranked list to the Regents’ Special Committee. Out of that list will come the final name that will be put before Chancellor Hank Huckaby.

The four current contenders are Dr. Michael Lane from Emporia State University, Dr. Bill McKinney from Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, Dr. Cheryl Norton from the American Association of State Colleges and Universities and Dr. Ray Alden from Northern Illinois University.

All four candidates spoke for an hour in front of staff, faculty and students from various departments, such as Odum Library and VSUPD and were asked questions about their experiences and plans for VSU.

One faculty member has already chosen his personal favorite based on the sessions.

“I think someone whose first name is ‘Bill’ instead of ‘William’ is a down-to-earth people person,” said history professor Dr. Louis Schmier, who attended all four sessions.

“I got the sense he was a resonant leader…a moving person. I felt he was strong in his values, committed to his beliefs and lives a full, passionate life.”

Dr. Louis Levy is currently serving as interim president, following the departure of former-president Dr. Patrick Schloss, who served as president for three years before leaving VSU last spring to become the University System of Georgia’s Assistant to Executive Vice Chancellor.

Dr. Phyllis Holland, committee chair and Management and International Business department head, said the committee is making progress.

“Right now we are collecting feedback from the interviews and trying to digest the campus reaction to each of the candidates,” Dr. Holland said. “All along the way, there is the possibility of the need to interview more candidates but there are no plans for that now.”

The goal of the committee is to have a new president in place by July 1.

Dr. Holland encouraged students, staff and faculty to provide feedback on the search process through the Presidential Search website located through the VSU website homepage.

One of the candidates, Dr. Lane, had positive feelings about VSU after his day on campus.

“Clearly Valdosta State University is an excellent institution with wonderful and friendly people,” Dr. Lane said.” Their interest in VSU is both impressive and important. I leave Valdosta more convinced that this is an exceptional opportunity.”

Dr. McKinney would like for VSU to get more recognition.

“I want to make it so that anyone who goes around the country, whether they’re an alum or faculty member, anybody in the country can say, ‘Oh, you’re the school that … x, y, or z. What is it that VSU is? What’s the next big thing?”

Dr. Norton holds the student body in high regard.

“I’m most concerned about student success,” she said. “I hopefully can assure that students have the best academic experience here. I want to provide students the resources to excel in their discipline.”

Dr. Alden sees what VSU can aim for and become.

“There is a potential for growth on this campus,” he said. “But, I think that growth for growth’s sake is not what you really want to do. You want to grow and become better.”

For any questions regarding the search, Dr. Holland can be contacted at pholland@valdosta.edu.

Jacob McWhorter, Amber Smith, and J. Daniel Young contributed to this article.

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