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Search Committee Expects New UM Chancellor by Year’s End

Board Search Committee chair Alan Perry speaks during a Listening Session conducted by the committee. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications
Board Search Committee chair Alan Perry speaks during a Listening Session conducted by the committee. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

The committee charged with finding a new University of Mississippi chancellor expects to have a preferred candidate selected before the end of the year, the group’s members said at an on-campus listening session with alumni, faculty, staff and students.

The UM Board Search Committee is tasked by the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning to find the next chancellor through a nationwide search. The UM Campus Search Advisory Committee is assisting. The R. William Funk and Associates firm is helping with the search, and the group is also taking candidate suggestions from the public. 

Alan Perry, a UM graduate who chairs the UM Board Search Committee, said he expects very high interest in the opening.

“Ole Miss is a destination job,” Perry said. “We think it’s a good enough job that we can attract very, very good applicants.”

The UM Board Search Committee met with the UM Foundation and UM Alumni Association boards of directors Tuesday (July 14), and along with the UM Campus Search Advisory Committee, held listening sessions with alumni, faculty, staff and students. Those meetings were all open to the public. All voices will be heard and the committee truly wants as much input as possible, Perry said.

“We want to hear the characteristics you are looking for in your next chancellor,” Perry said. “We do not assume that we know everything.”

The committee will hold more listening sessions during the process. Those sessions will be Aug. 20 at the UM Medical Center in Jackson and another Oxford campus session on Aug. 27.

The interview process for candidates will be private. Ideally, the group would have a preferred candidate chosen by the end of the fall semester and that candidate would be available for public forums with the university community before being hired, Perry said. The new chancellor could take over in the spring 2016 semester, if all goes as planned, he said.

Douglass Sullivan-Gonzalez, Dean of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, speaks during a Campus Listening Session conducted by members of the Board Search Committee. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications
Douglass Sullivan-Gonzalez, Dean of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, speaks during a Campus Listening Session conducted by members of the Board Search Committee. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

Faculty, staff members and administrators told the committee Tuesday they want the next chancellor to build on UM’s strong reputation as a research institution. They also want someone who has a strong academic background and fundraising acumen. This candidate should also be chosen from a diverse pool of applicants, the board was told. Perry agreed those items were all important factors in the committee’s decision.

Douglass Sullivan-Gonzalez, dean of UM’s Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, said he feels the next leader needs to have worked at a university and also be able to understand the needs of tenured faculty. He also noted the importance of someone who has fundraising capabilities. 

But the next chancellor must also understand UM competes with the world for students, faculty and resources, he said.

“Our competition is not Mississippi State. Our competition is not Jackson State,” Sullivan-Gonzalez said. “Our competition is coming from Beijing. It’s coming from Berlin and it’s coming from Buenos Aires. It’s coming from New Dehli. That’s the world we live in. We have to get out of this monolithic vision that this is a zero-sum game and look at the broader picture and choose a leader that is thinking that way.”

Alice Clark, UM vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs, serves as chair of the Campus Search Advisory Committee. She said she’s honored to be a part of the process and feels the committee is an outstanding group of professionals with the best interest of the university at heart.

“The university is at a position of unprecedented success and we’re on a tremendous upward trajectory with momentum,” Clark said. “We expect to identify a leader for the university that will take us forward and capitalize on our current success. What we want is great leadership and the vision and ability to inspire people to greater heights.”

Nomination letters, applications (including a letter of interest, resume/CV and references) or expressions of interest can be submitted to the R. William Funk and Associates firm through email to krisha.creal@rwilliamfunk.com. Other contact information is available at http://rwilliamfunk.com/. Candidates may apply until Sept. 1 for best consideration. To track progress on the search or get additional information, visit http://www.mississippi.edu/ieo/ or see the Twitter account @UM_Search

Courtesy of Michael Newsom, Ole Miss News Desk

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Adam Brown
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