Campus and community encouraged to meet presidential candidates

The Presidential Search Committee is one step closer to naming the university’s next leader.

The committee announced Oct. 13 it narrowed the pool of presidential candidates to four, however candidate Robin Capehart withdrew the next day.

“The (three) finalists are now scheduled to visit our campus, and we encourage our faculty, staff, students and members of the community to review the candidates’ resumes and schedule of visits,” said Joel Anderson, trustee and chairman of the committee.

The candidates are:

Randall W. Hanna – Current chancellor for the Florida College System

Kenneth D. Kitts – Current provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke

Sandra J. Jordan – Current chancellor for the University of South Carolina Aiken

“We’re bringing (three) because we felt like there were (three) that had the potential to be a strong president at UNA,” said Dean of the College of Business Gregory Carnes.

Officials look to fill the position left vacant when William Cale announced his retirement in March.

Former Vice President of Academic Affairs and Provost John Thornell temporarily serves as interim president.

Cale remains at UNA in a consulting role as President Emeritus until Dec. 31.

The committee announced in September it received 46 applications through Wheless Partners, the search firm that assisted with the hiring of Vice President of Business and Financial Affairs Clinton Carter earlier this year.

Anderson said the committee then reviewed the candidates’ credentials and narrowed the pool to 19.

Nine finalists were chosen and interviewed off campus to further narrow the pool.

Trustee Steve Pierce said the committee looked for the person who can take UNA to the “next level.”

“This person is the face of the university, which is a staple of the community,” Pierce said. “We want someone who has the energy and background to be a proven leader.”

The search committee also includes faculty, staff, administrators and a student.

GA Senator and former President Laura Giles said the committee worked diligently to ensure finalists held students in high regards.

“It is important to make sure they understand the university can’t operate without students,” Giles said. “We asked what interaction they saw themselves having with the student body, and they showed they are involved with students in their current roles.”

Carnes said each of the candidates answered several questions to let the committee get to know them better.

“Because it’s a presidential position, it has a large scope of qualifications we wanted the candidates to address,” Carnes said.

He said the candidates were judged on a variety of characteristics including, “integrity in prior and current positions, broad experience at the university level, understanding the academic and non-academic side of the university and their ability to communicate to external constituencies what the UNA brand is.”

The candidates will hold open forums with students, faculty, staff, administration and the community.

Kitts meets with the community today, Oct. 16, at 2:30 p.m. in GUC Banquet Hall B.

Hanna’s open forum is Oct. 20 at 2:30 p.m. in the GUC Performance Center, and Jordan’s is Oct. 22 at 2:30 p.m. in GUC Banquet Hall B.

“We’ll learn a whole lot about the candidates when they come to campus and see them interact with the students and faculty and answer questions,” Carnes said. “Being able to answer questions and think on your feet is important in this role.”

Editor’s note: follow @UNA_FlorAla on Twitter for live updates during each candidate’s forum.