Chancellor search group sets meeting plan

The 16-member committee that will help select Western Carolina University’s next chancellor will hear directly from the incoming University of North Carolina president about his thoughts on the characteristics needed in the person who will succeed John W. Bardo.

Tom Ross, who will take over the reins of the UNC system upon the retirement of Erskine Bowles later this year, will give an official charge to the search committee as part of its inaugural meeting Tuesday, Nov. 16. The meeting is scheduled from 10 a.m. until noon in the multipurpose room of Blue Ridge Residence Hall.

In addition, Jerry Baker, lead consultant with the executive search firm Baker and Associates, will brief the committee on the timing and process of the search. The WCU Board of Trustees on Oct. 29 selected Baker’s firm, with offices in Winston-Salem and Atlanta, to lead the effort to recruit the university’s next chief executive officer.

During the Nov. 16 meeting, Baker will listen as search committee members share their thoughts about the chancellorship, the priorities of the university, the most important aspects of the job, and the background of candidates who should be considered for the position, said Terry Welch, assistant to the chancellor who also is serving as secretary to the search committee.

Upon receiving its official charge from Ross, the committee will reconvene at 1 p.m. Monday, Nov. 22, for a series of open forums to solicit input from representatives of the university’s various constituencies about what they are seeking in WCU’s next chancellor.

Four hourlong meetings to seek public comment will be held in the theater of A.K. Hinds University Center – at 1-2 p.m. for faculty; 2-3 p.m. for staff; 3-4 p.m. for students; and 4-5 p.m. for alumni, community members and those interested in athletics.  “Although the sessions will be designed for specific constituent groups, everyone is welcome to attend any session, especially if your personal schedule does not permit you to attend the session targeted for you,” Welch said.

The search committee will meet at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 1, to discuss public feedback from the forums and to review the official position description for the chancellor’s post. The meeting will be held in the Peele, Westmoreland Suhre, Hartshorn Hospitality Room of the Ramsey Regional Activity Center. Another meeting is scheduled for 3 p.m. Monday, Dec. 6, in the Hospitality Room of the Ramsey Center.

Although all scheduled meetings are open to the public, the Nov. 22 open forums are the only meetings that will have time for public comment.

In addition, the search committee is exploring other ways for interested alumni, friends and interested parties who may be unable to attend the campus forums to share their thoughts on WCU’s next top leader.

Bardo, who has served as chancellor at Western Carolina for more than 15 years, announced on Oct. 11 his plans to step down from the post effective July 1.

As part of a regularly scheduled Board of Trustees retreat Oct. 28-29, the board appointed a search committee with membership drawn from WCU faculty, students, staff, alumni and administration and from the surrounding community to help select Bardo’s successor. The committee is chaired by Asheville attorney Steve Warren, chair of WCU’s trustees.

To identify a pool of candidates, the committee will work closely with Baker and Associates, which has conducted more than 40 searches in North Carolina for academic and nonprofit institutions, including those for new chancellors at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and N.C. State University.

The committee will recommend its top candidates to the WCU trustees, who will then forward the names of at least two nominees to the new UNC president. Ross will present his recommendation to the full UNC Board of Governors for final consideration and approval.

Although the timetable for the search process is still being developed, Warren said it is the goal of the committee to have a new chancellor named and ready to lead the university by July 1.

To help keep the public fully apprised of the process, a chancellor search committee website is under development and is expected to be unveiled in mid-November.