The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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January 4, 2014

MSSU board debates parameters, timeline of presidential search

JOPLIN, Mo. — Members of the Board of Governors at Missouri Southern State University will move forward with a presidential search but leave many of the details of the process up to the 12-person search committee.

The board met on the MSSU campus Saturday morning to formulate a charge for the search committee, which is made up of faculty, staff, students, administration, alumni, business partners and members of the Joplin community. The committee formed last month to guide the search for the next president and is expected to receive its charge at the board’s regular meeting on Jan. 17.

From there, it will be up to the committee to determine exactly how it wants to proceed with the search, said Richard Walter, board chairman.

“I would like to give them as much freedom to make decisions as we can,” he said.

Some of Saturday’s discussion centered on whether the board should go through with a presidential search at all. Walter said board members have fielded numerous inquiries from people who have expressed satisfaction with interim President Alan Marble and who have questioned why the board should conduct a search if the interim president already appears to be a good fit for the university.

But the consensus among board members was that conducting a search would be right and diligent to find the best candidate for MSSU, regardless of whether Marble is that candidate in the end.

“I think we, as a board, have an obligation to do a broader search,” board member Lynn Ewing said.

The use of a consultant or talent-search agency was another idea discussed, with most board members saying they see a need for some type of outside help to find qualified candidates.

Ewing said he thinks the search committee and board could conduct a successful search on its own but that the use of a “head-hunter” would signal that it is serious about finding the right candidate and not simply going through the motions of a search.

“I think we, as a board, need to make it clear that there are no preconceived notions, there are no expectations as to who will have this job,” he said.

The board also debated whether it should set a time frame in which a president should be named. Marble is currently on a one-year contract as interim president; the board previously indicated that could be renewed if it does not have a permanent president in place in that amount of time.

Walter has repeatedly said he wants board members to take their time with the search.

“I don’t want to be trapped by setting a time and then, all of a sudden, we get more concerned with getting something done in a certain time frame instead of getting the right person,” he said.

Other board members said some kind of timeline needs to be in place, and they suggested fall 2014 or spring 2015 as key targets for having the hiring completed. Part of the reason, they said, is that if a search is drawn out for too long, the interim president could become reluctant to continue serving in that capacity or he could be hired elsewhere. They also said there is a desire among much of the campus to fill the position.

“They’re seeing that there is some urgency in getting a permanent president named,” said Sherry Buchanan, who co-chairs the search committee with Walter.

Buchanan said she and Walter will draft a formal job description for the president’s position, as well as the formal charge for the committee, based on Saturday’s discussion. Both will be approved by the board and presented to the committee at the board’s Jan. 17 meeting.

The search committee is expected to convene for the first time later this month or in early February. The final hiring of the president will ultimately be the responsibility and authority of the board.

Performance evaluation

RICHARD WALTER, chairman of the Missouri Southern State University Board of Governors, said a six-month performance evaluation of interim President Alan Marble by board members and those who report directly to Marble will take place this month.

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