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Al Key

TWU gains ground in search

Profile image for By Jenna Duncan / Staff Writer
By Jenna Duncan / Staff Writer
TWU President and Chancellor Ann Stuart speaks Thursday at the new Pioneer Center in Blagg-Huey Library. She has indicated she will step down at the end of the spring semester and a search is underway to find her successor.Al Key
TWU President and Chancellor Ann Stuart speaks Thursday at the new Pioneer Center in Blagg-Huey Library. She has indicated she will step down at the end of the spring semester and a search is underway to find her successor.
Al Key

Firm identifies 8 top presidential candidates

The top eight candidates to replace outgoing Texas Woman’s University President and Chancellor Ann Stuart have been identified by a search firm after months of review, and a finalist could be named as early as April, officials said.

Regent George Schrader said search firm Korn/Ferry has identified the top contenders and is preparing talks with them, though he said the regents still don’t know much about the candidates or their level of interest in TWU.

While there are not a lot of men in the top slots, the candidates are diverse in race and gender, Schrader said.

“We’re getting ready to talk with them, and that’s what we’re wrestling with now,” he said.

Though the selection process has been slower than expected, Schrader said regents believe they will be able to get back on schedule to bring finalists to campus by early April and to select a finalist later that month. Regents hope to negotiate and announce the sole finalist by mid-May, with the new chancellor and president expected to join TWU in July or August, he said.

Stuart announced in November 2012 that she would retire but agreed not to leave until her successor was named. Last year, it was made clear she would leave this year after the spring semester.

Since October, Korn/Ferry has been handling all applications, nominations and recruiting for the position, Schrader said. The initial stage took so long because the search firm made sure to reach out to all constituencies of the university, including faculty, students, administration, alumni and donors.

“We wanted Korn/Ferry to contribute by independently making contact with scores of people and all those constituencies to gather information on what they see as the future of TWU,” Schrader said. “They spent a lot of extended time on that.”

Korn/Ferry came up with a list of 250 candidates and a list of 40 top candidates to review with the Search Advisory Committee that has been appointed to participate in the selection process, Schrader said.

The search committee, made up of students, faculty and staff, met Feb. 17 for the first formal meeting of the group with the regents and the search firm. However, they didn’t review candidates or schedule a second meeting at that time, said Jeffrey Robb, a professor on the committee and chairman of the Faculty Senate.

“I’ve asked some questions to try and ask the regents to be more specific about what [the committee’s] role is going to be and when we’ll get information about the candidates and be involved in the process, because of course our position is to be meaningful in terms of giving advice,” he said.

One issue discussed at the meeting was holding open forums with finalists at some point so they can interact with students, faculty and staff. While candidates will be scheduled to visit in March and early April, what they will do on the visits hasn’t been determined, Robb said.

“We hope that’s going to happen, and we’ve encouraged the regents to include plans for forums, but that hasn’t been decided yet,” Robb said. “It’s something very important to all of us, and something we think the candidates would want as well.”

Robb said he is confident they will find a suitable person for the position, and hopes that with the strength and upward trajectory of the university, it’s seen as a plum job.

“I’m assuming it would be an attractive opportunity for a lot of people, and I’m assuming we’ll have a strong pool of candidates — that’s my hope and belief,” Robb said. “I think the goal, of course, is to find a strong person to be the successor of Dr. Stuart, so hopefully we’ll meet that goal, and at least we’ve had this first step.”

JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889 and via Twitter at @JennaFDuncan.