Presidential candidate list narrowed to under five

Emma Collins

The search for WKU’s next president continued in Nashville, Tennessee on Sunday when members of the Board of Regents met to interview the few remaining candidates.

Prior to the meeting, Presidential Search Committee Chair and Regent Phillip Bale said the list had been narrowed down to under five candidates, all of whom would be interviewed either Sunday or Monday.

Bale and the other regents were joined by members of Isaacson, Miller Inc., the search firm hired to help attract and consider candidates. The interviews were held in closed session in the Loews Vanderbilt Hotel’s Neely Room. The Neely Room is located on the second floor of the hotel, and none of the candidates were seen entering or exiting the room where the interviews were held.


Bale said the diversity and quality of the candidates has not been greatly affected despite significantly narrowing down the list of contending individuals. He said the group remains diverse both in fields of expertise and gender.

“All of the candidates left standing are highly qualified, and, in my opinion, will be president of a university in the near future,” Bale said.

The board has yet to discuss or vote on whether to close the search and keep the names of the candidates confidential. If the board decides to close the search, only the name of the new president will be released once a final decision is made.

Student Regent Jay Todd Richey said many of the candidates value confidentiality and would prefer to remain unknown to the WKU community.

“Many of the candidates don’t want to risk jeopardizing the position they hold with taking a new opportunity,” Richey said.

Bale said the university has been able to attract and retain a number of high-caliber candidates because the search has been closed thus far. Without the guarantee of confidentiality, many of the past and current applicants would not have applied for the position.

“Many of these people have high position jobs in other places; many of them are involved in fundraising in other places that could be adversely impacted if their name was made public and people where they are [now] knew they were interested in something else,” Bale said.

Bale said Isaacson, Miller Inc. made it clear they believe a closed search is the best option; however, he said all of the search firms WKU considered employing also preferred a closed search.

The university community has been involved in some aspects of the presidential search. Bale said seven forums were held so faculty, staff and students could have a chance to discuss desirable qualities for the new president.

Members of the WKU community also served on the search committee that narrowed down the applicant list before it was presented to the board for consideration.

“Over 42 percent of our search committee is represented by students, faculty and staff, so we have had strong input from the people representing those groups on our search committee,” Bale said. “Our faculty, student and staff representatives have been magnificent in their service throughout this search.”

During this two-day period, Bale said the boards’ goal is to learn more about the remaining individuals and ultimately narrow down the list for the board to vote on in early March.

“We hope to get to know these people greater as a person, and I think in doing that we will narrow our list and become more focused on who the next president is going to be,” Bale said.

The board will continue to interview potential candidates in a closed meeting on Monday at the Loews Vanderbilt Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee.

The Herald will update this story as more information is made available.