Don’t rush when hiring a new chancellor to replace John Bardo, one board of trustee member for Western Carolina University cautioned the university’s other top leaders last week during a two-day annual retreat in Cullowhee.
Echoing the sentiments of the search firm — Baker and Associates, which has offices in Winston-Salem and Atlanta — hired to help a newly constituted search committee find exactly the right candidates for chancellor, former Asheville Mayor Charles Worley urged his fellow board of trustee members to “be sure we’ve got the right one — even if it takes a little longer.”
The selection process is estimated to take five to six months.
Bardo announced Oct. 11 he planed to retire. He spent more than 15 years as WCU’s chancellor.
“It is very important that you keep control of the process,” board of trustee member George Little said, adding cautionary words to those by Worley. “That’s why you’re there (on the committee) as a board member — so that we will have the best candidate.”
Six board of trustee members, including Vice Chairman Worley and Chairman Steve Warren, were placed on a 16-member committee tasked with nominating candidates to the full WCU board of trustees. The board will forward the names of at least two nominees, probably three, to new University of North Carolina system President Tom Ross. The UNC president will present his top selection to the full UNC Board of Governors for consideration and approval.
Ross, acting as president-elect (Erskine Bowles is retiring this year, at age 65, as UNC system president), will “charge” the WCU search committee Nov. 16. That date also represents the first meeting of the new committee.
In addition to the trustees, the committee is made up of WCU faculty, students, community members, alumni and administration.
Warren said the search committee would actively solicit ideas on what is wanted from the next WCU chancellor, through a Website being built and more. He wants to see a “statement of position” for the chancellor crafted before candidates are identified.
Internal appointments made
In other WCU-related news, Bardo announced last week that Dianne Lynch, chief of staff for WCU, would assume the role of acting vice chancellor for operations, effective immediately. The move, Bardo said, is in response to several interim appointments at the university’s executive level and in recognition of his own pending retirement.
“I have made this decision because I anticipate a challenging legislative session and I expect to be spending a considerable amount of time in Raleigh once the legislature convenes in late January,” said Bardo, who owns a house near Raleigh. “This interim appointment ensures that Dianne has the delegated authority to make and/or approve institutional decisions for non-academic areas of the university that may become necessary when I am not on campus, and until the chancellor’s search is completed and that individual has been named.”
Bardo’s retirement announcement meant the suspension of national searches that had been under way to fill two top university leadership positions. Chuck Wooten retired as vice chancellor on Jan. 1, and internal auditor Robert Edwards last week was tapped interim vice chancellor for administration and finance.
Additionally, searches were taking place for a replacement for Kyle Carter, who left WCU’s provost office to become chancellor at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke on July 1. Linda Seestedt-Stanford, dean of WCU’s college of health and human sciences, is serving as interim provost.
The search committee
• Steve Warren, chair of the board of trustees who will also chair the selection committee.
• Charles Worley, trustee, an Asheville attorney and 2001-2005 mayor of Asheville.
• Gerald Kister, trustee, a 1969 graduate of WCU and resident of Columbia, S.C. Former chief executive officer of La-Z-Boy Inc.
• Joan MacNeill, trustee, a Webster resident who is the former president and chief operating officer of Great Smoky Mountains Railway.
• Virginia “Tommye” Saunooke, trustee, a Cherokee resident and an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians who serves on Tribal Council. Earned two degrees at WCU.
• Teresa Williams, trustee, a Huntersville resident who serves as board secretary.
• A.J. Grube, head of WCU’s department of business administration and law, and sport management.
• Erin McNelis, current chair of the WCU Faculty Senate. Associate professor of mathematics and computer science.
• Billy Ogletree, head of WCU’s Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders.
• Daniel Dorsey, president of the Student Government Association. A senior from Decatur, Ga., majoring in communication.
• William Frady, chair of the WCU Staff Senate. Manager of instructional and student computing in the Division of Information Technology. Holds two degrees from WCU.
• Carol Burton, associate vice chancellor for WCU’s undergraduate studies. Holds two degrees from WCU.
• Betty Jo Allen, president of the WCU Alumni Association. A resident of Lincolnton and a 1968 graduate of WCU.
• Kenny Messer, former president of the WCU Alumni Association and past president of the Catamount Club Board of Directors. A Greenville, S.C., resident who is an executive with Milliken Corp.
• Phil Walker, former chair of the WCU Board of Trustees. Senior vice president with BB&T, a 1971 graduate of WCU, and chair of the recently completed campaign for WCU, which raised more than $52 million in private support.
• Scott Hamilton, president and chief executive officer of Advantage West, the regional economic development commission of Western North Carolina. Hamilton lives in Henderson County.