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Next WVU president: Board names search committee

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The West Virginia University Board of Governors approved a 20-member search committee on Monday to select the school's next president, and the board's chairman acknowledged the search is proceeding quickly.

The committee is a "cross-section of the university community," and members were nominated by various WVU constituency groups, according to board chairman James Dailey.

The Board of Governors plans to have all applications for WVU's next president in by late February, with plans to hire a replacement for former WVU president Jim Clements by early June.

Clements announced in November that he had accepted the position of president at Clemson University. E. Gordon Gee, former president of Ohio State University and WVU, among other schools, is serving as interim president.

"I'm into this thing about three or four hours, and the university is still standing. I'm feeling very good about it. I've done no harm thus far," Gee joked at his first WVU BOG meeting Monday. "I'm having a marvelous time. I think that one of the things I want on the record is this university is blessed with really great people, and it's been wonderful. We've been off and running this morning talking about a number of things."

Gee will serve as an advisor and non-voting member of the presidential search committee approved at Monday's special meeting.

Three members from the BOG will serve on the search committee: Thomas Flaherty, vice-chairman for the board and a Charleston attorney; Ellen Cappellanti, board secretary and a Charleston attorney; and Diane Lewis, board president and business owner in Morgantown.

Dailey, who will chair the search and serve as a non-voting member, admitted the timeline for the presidential selection process is speedy, and said while board members are hoping to meet that five-month deadline, it all depends on the pool of candidates.

"It is a quick search. I guess the main thrust behind trying to have someone in place by June is so that, assuming we've had a selection made, that person then would be able to utilize the months leading up to August -- when school starts -- to get their feet wet," he said. "The timeline was set up primarily so that the new president, no matter who he or she may be, would have a resting period in the summer time to get to know the staff, and get a better feel for what goes on and how it goes on.

"If we got 500 applications for the new president, I don't think we'd make a June delivery date. But my hopes are we will get some really highly-qualified folks to apply, simply because of the position that the university's currently in," Dailey said. "The fact that Gordon Gee is here even as a mentor ... as a result of Gee's pedigree, and the way Jim Clements left the university in such a fine shape, I think we will get some really top-notch applicants."

The June deadline also coincides with a potentially crucial time for the board: four of its members' terms expire, with new terms slated to begin July 1.

Flaherty; Bridgeport resident David Alvarez of Energy Transportation LLC; and Charleston resident Drew Payne, of Horse Creek Land and Mining Co., Spruce Boone Land Co. and Boone Coal and Timber Co., all have terms expiring in June. Robert Griffith, faculty representative on the board, also has a term expiring this year.

All four are eligible for re-appointment to the board.

"Of course we had seriously hoped to have the actual presidential search well underway and be in the position to hire a new president or have finalists selected down to two or three people before anyone's terms would end in June," Dailey said.

Faculty members of the presidential search committee, besides Griffith, are Carolyn Atkins, professor of speech pathology, and Matt Valenti, professor of electrical engineering.

The committee also includes classified staff members Lisa Martin, Dixie Martinelli and Paul Martinelli, and student government members Colleen Beatty, Liz Gulick and Paul Garton.

Elizabeth Dooley, associate provost for undergraduate academic affairs, and Robert Jones, dean of the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, will represent the administration on the search committee, with John Fahey, vice president of United Bank Inc., and Jack Rossi, of Arnett Foster Toothman PLLC, representing the WVU Alumni Association.

Carolyn Long, campus executive officer for WVU Tech, will also serve on the search committee, along with Cynthia Roth and Susan Brewer from the WVU Foundation.

Last month, the board outlined qualities and characteristics for the next WVU president, saying candidates should show integrity and leadership, in addition to having experience in managing a complex research university with a medical center.

More information on the search for WVU's next president can be found at http://presidentialsearch.wvu.edu.

Other WVU Board of Governors members include: Rob Alsop, attorney at Bowles Rice in Charleston; Raymond Lane, former partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in California; William Nutting, of Ogden Newspapers in Wheeling; Edward Robinson, of E.L. Robinson Engineering; J.R. Rogers, partner at the Law Offices of J. Robert Rogers in Charleston; William Wilmoth, attorney Steptoe & Johnson in Wheeling; Lisa DiBartolomeo, faculty representative; and Ryan Campione, student body president.Reach Mackenzie Mays at mackenzie.mays@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4814.


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