The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

February 14, 2014

MSSU committee to seek approval to hire professional search firm

The Missouri Southern State University Presidential Search Committee will seek approval from the Board of Governors next week to seek proposals from professional search consultants.

Committee member Darren Fullerton, MSSU vice president of student affairs, said the service could cost between $85,000 and $120,000.

The committee is guiding the search for the next university president after Bruce Speck was fired last year. Alan Marble, former president of Crowder College, is serving as interim president.  

“The main advantage of using a search firm is that they can solicit some folks who may not automatically apply, but who may be very qualified,” Fullerton said.

According to Fullerton and other members of the committee, a search firm can add credibility, objectivity, coordination and professionalism to the presidential search.

Sherry Buchanan, a member of the Board of Governors who is co-chairing the committee, said she was concerned about the amount of time hiring a search firm might add.

Jeff Gibson, MSSU director of budget and operations, said some aspects of the procedure can be expedited.

“We want to try to move this along,” said Richard Walter, co-chairman of the committee and former member of the Board of Governors.

Another committee member suggested the panel move on a “parallel pathway” with the search firm, seeking applications before the firm is hired. Buchanan and others endorsed that strategy.

Rob Yust, MSSU vice president of finance, gave a presentation on the university’s financial situation, citing ever-decreasing state appropriations and requirement for more money from students in the form of tuition increases.

Yust said fundraising ability must be a high priority for the next president.

“This person’s got to be a tremendous communicator and a salesman,” Yust said.

Walter said the president must also be skilled at securing private donations.

“The private fundraising is a bigger and bigger part of our future,” Walter said.

Debbie Dutch-Kelley, MSSU director of human resources, provided information to the committee. She said the “Chronicle of Higher Education” is the best publication in which to advertise for the position.

She said it will be important to check references other than those the applicants have supplied, after being certain their employers have been notified they’re seeking other employment. She referred to them as “off-list” references.

“Believe it or not, some people lie on their resume,” she said.

She said the effort should be spent only on the top finalists.

“You’ve got a great adventure ahead of you,” she said.

The committee will next meet at 3 p.m. Monday, Feb. 24.

More for board

Sherry Buchanan, co-chairwoman of the Presidential Search Committee and a member of the MSSU Board of Governors, said a proposed job description and compensation package also may be presented to the university board next week.

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