Presidential Search down to three

Danny Spatchek, Managing Editor
February 24, 2011

Each of the three candidates vying to become the next president of Lakeland College visited the campus for two days apiece from Feb. 14-22.

Jonathan Green, Richard Wueste, and Joanne Passaro, the candidates selected by the Presidential Search Committee (PSC), toured the campus, met with representatives from Lakeland’s stakeholder groups, and answered questions from faculty, staff, and students at open forums.

Reverend David Michael, spokesperson for the PSC, said when the PSC met Wednesday they compiled responses to questionnaires answered by faculty, staff, student leaders, and alumni about each candidate’s strengths and weaknesses.

Associate Professor of Biology Greg Smith, one of the two faculty members on the six-person PSC, said in addition to the questionnaire responses the committee will consider numerous pieces of information including candidates’ performances on interviews, their references, curriculum vitae, application letters, and backgrounds.

Michael said the committee will give a progress report to the Board of Trustees, which meets today.

“We will not yet be ready to recommend one of the three candidates and the possibility always exists that if none of these three are satisfactory to the committee or to the board of trustees that we could simply continue on and interview other candidates. Our concern is to get the best possible new president for Lakeland and if we’ve got to work longer, we will do that,” Michael said.

Michael said the committee originally received a list of 47 candidates from the search firm Lakeland hired, the Association of Governing Boards of Colleges and Universities (AGB Search), before narrowing the list to 12 and then eight based on phone interviews. The PSC met with the final eight candidates Jan. 26-27 in Milwaukee and “grilled them pretty hard,” Smith said.

He said the campus visit is as much an interview for the candidates as it is for Lakeland.

“At this last stage, a lot of it is that they have to meet us,” Smith said. “They have to meet the rest of the campus. They have to see the campus. They have to get a feel for the campus. They have to talk to students. They have to talk to alumni. They have to want to come to Lakeland if they’re going to be a good president. So the campus interview is almost as much Lakeland selling these candidates on why they should want to come to Lakeland.”

Michael said the candidate who is eventually chosen must fit Lakeland’s mission.

“You need to be sure that the person matches the mission and doesn’t come in with the idea of changing it. Because otherwise you destroy the best that we have to offer,” he said.

Michael said the PSC and the Board of Trustees, the group that will ultimately vote for a candidate, hopes to have someone selected by the time President Gould retires at the end of the school year.

“It would be good if we could have somebody maybe not ready to go but at least chosen by then,” Michael said.

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