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WVU seeks a 'superstar' for president

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia University will officially begin advertising that it's looking for a new president within the next few days.

Although the WVU Board of Governors has named an early June deadline to select its next leader, that's an "on or about" date, said board Chairman Jim Dailey

"The most important thing to us is not having those set deadlines . . . , because you have to have flexibility in everything you do in life," Dailey told Gazette editors Thursday. "We don't want to shorten our opportunities in hiring whatever superstar may be out there. We aren't going to cut ourselves short."

E. Gordon Gee, former Ohio State University president who also served as WVU's president more than 30 years ago, is serving in the position again while the board conducts a nationwide search for a candidate to more permanently replace Jim Clements.

Clements resigned from the WVU presidency in November and is now the president of Clemson University. Gee is not a candidate for the permanent position.

The board wants to have all applications in by next month.

"We would like for Gordon to be here as long as we can keep him here, I'll tell you that, but he does have commitments, and we have commitments. So we're going to try to work within those timeframes, but he may stretch his commitment farther than the six-month period," Dailey said. "It just depends on the quality of the candidates we get and the number of people we get to apply."

The last WVU presidential search -- which resulted in Clements' hire -- took about five months, Dailey said, but he says he's hoping for a more thorough search this time.

"That was a limited search. The search firm hired primarily focused on credentials and background," he said. "We feel that, in order to capture a superstar, we need to expand that to a much broader and bigger playing field."

Dailey said he's optimistic about a speedy search process because he believes top-notch candidates will come out to apply for the job. So does Gee, who called the job one of the best in the country.

There's another reason Gee believes the search shouldn't take that long: Not many people qualify.

"This is a very unique institution. It is Michigan and Michigan State combined; Indiana and Purdue combined; it's Iowa and Iowa State combined. It's a major research university, but it's also a land-grant institution, which means, in the end, that there are very limited number of people with the kind of expertise you need to have," Gee said. "So that allows [the board] to be more focused. Rather than having potentially 150 people who might take on the opposition, it's a more limited pool.

"This I do know: that they have no one in their middle drawer they have selected. I do know that. I think that's important."

More information on the search for WVU's next president can be found here

Reach Mackenzie Mays at mackenzie.mays@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4814.


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