7 candidates for president interviewed in Nashville

Jacob Dick

The Presidential Search Committee began live interviews with seven candidates for university president Thursday morning after going into closed session.

The committee, mostly comprised from Board of Regents members, convened with representatives from the Issacson Miller executive search firm at the Nashville Airport Marriott to interview candidates in person during a two-day period.

Philip Bale, committee chair and regent, said the interviews were a part of the final process before the entire board would be introduced to candidates.

“Sometime within the next few weeks or month we hope to have a list of three or four finalists and then the board will become the selection committee.”

Bale said the interviews would determine how quickly finalists would be selected and when they will be introduced to the board, but that it was unlikely to happen at the regents meeting next week with graduation and a session with the American Governing Board consultants on the agenda.

He also said there was no solid number of candidates the committee will select to recommend to the board for review.

“These interviews will hopefully reveal to us the number but my guess would be three, maybe four,” Bale said.

The door to the meeting room was almost closed to the Herald reporter by Isaacson Miller Vice President Michael Baer after asking the reporter to introduce himself. The reporter asked if the committee would not be beginning in open session, in accordance to Kentucky open meetings law, at which Baer asked Julia McDonald, assistant to the president for board and executive relations, and was allowed into the meeting room.

McDonald said the committee would immediately go in to closed session after beginning and would not go into an open session again until the end of the committee meeting on Friday to adjourn.

In the afternoon, Bale said three candidates would be interviewed on Thursday and four candidates would be interviewed on Friday. At the time of Bale’s comment, he said they would be interviewing the third candidate late in the afternoon. The first candidate was seen coming to the meeting room through the main hallway but the second candidate was not seen entering or exiting.

The Board of Regents has still not made an official decision on whether the final process of the selection will be open with the candidate’s identities revealed to the public. So far, the selection committee has had the only contact with candidates in closed sessions with guidance from Issacson Miller.

“I think we would all love for it to be open in the end but, in order for us to do that, we have to have candidates that are willing to do that,” Bale said.

With a list of highly qualified candidates with experience at other institutions, Bale said it should be no surprise other universities might also be looking at the same candidates. That may be a consideration when deciding how quickly to hire a candidate.

“It could add urgency to making a decision, possibly, but you don’t what to fall over yourselves too quick to make a decision,” Bale said.