Presidential search officially launched


Max Van Wie

VSC Chancellor Tim Donovan and trustee Lynn Dickinson

The Presidential Search Committee met Oct. 27, in the 1867 Room at Dewey Hall. The committee is tasked with selecting JSC President Barbara Murphy’s successor; she is stepping down after 14 years as the college’s president. This meeting outlined how the committee will go about doing so.

“Very little of this is about gathering data on someone,” VSC Chancellor Tim Donovan said. With lawyer and Committee Chair M. Jerome Diamond occupied in court, Donovan led the Oct. 27 meeting.

Instead, Donovan said the hiring process is more about the candidates’ behavior, such as their ability to size up and connect with a room full of people. He noted that the process goes both ways.

“We’re selling this college to people who think they might be interested,” Donovan said, “no different from what admissions does with students.”

Besides Donovan, the presidential search committee consists of the aforementioned Diamond; VSC trustee Lynn Dickinson; VSC student trustee and JSC student Alyssa Slaimen; VSC trustee Gary Moore; JSC alumnus David Silverman; JSC Professor of Fine Arts Ken Leslie; JSC Director of Athletics Jamey Ventura; JSC Advising Director Sara Kinerson; JSC Assistant Professor of Education Kathleen Brinegar; Castleton State College President David Wolk; and JSC student Shayna Bennett.

The advertisement for the president’s position was published the morning of Oct. 27. Written by Donovan, the ad says the search committee seeks “applicants with a deep commitment to and knowledge of higher education who will foster a college-wide commitment to early and ongoing student success; integrate and achieve balance among the College’s multiple goals; demonstrate effective management skills in key operational areas; facilitate and advance the academic and educational vision of the faculty and the College; successfully address public higher education fiscal realities; and take full advantage of the creative power, resources, and talent within the college community to ensure long-term success.”

Donovan will sort through the initial applications, weeding out those that “are clearly not candidate material.” These applications will be saved in a folder, which the other members of the committee may view for whatever reason they choose, including reconsidering the applicant’s candidacy.

The committee will then narrow the applicants down to 10 to 12 candidates. Those candidates will participate in 45-minute interviews via telephone or Skype. The interviews will be conducted in December.

The advertisement for the position predicted a Nov. 10 start date for the application sorting. Donovan noted there was no hard deadline for applications because “we don’t want to eliminate until we’re ready to eliminate, and a person’s timeliness says something as to their character.”

Donovan said that he had received three applications since posting the ad three hours before, as well as unsolicited applications received the previous day.

“We expect to see 60 to 70 applications,” Donovan said, “with a peak in 10 days.”

The board of trustees has asked for the search committee to determine no less than two final candidates for the position. It is the board of trustees who finally appoint the president.

Those candidates would then participate in a campus visit in January.

Donovan said, “We want to allow for someone with no academic background, for someone with a strong academic background, every gender, old, young, first-time presidents.”

This was the committee’s sole public meeting. The committee’s future discussions will be confidential.

“We want to invite applicants who are successful where they are now,” Donovan said. “Without confidentiality, we’ll lose applicants. This way we can deliberate on individuals freely and keep it in the room.”

An individual’s candidacy will become public when they accept an invite to visit the college.

Donovan said one aspect of the candidates’ visit to the JSC campus should be a conversation with President Murphy.

“She’s stepping down after 14 years,” he said. “You want to give the candidate a chance to pick her brains a bit.”

The committee’s goal is to wrap up the hiring process by March 1. The anticipated start date for the next JSC president is July 1.

At the closing of the meeting, Moore lauded the rescheduling of the candidates’ January visits, which were initially tentatively scheduled for the first week of classes.

Leslie and Kinerson argued for the rescheduling, citing the need for their students to feel comfortable and directed that first week.
“What we’re hearing is you’re worried about your classes and your students,” Moore said. “That says something about JSC. It says this is a place where we care about students.”