Search fails for new WKU associate VP position

Natalie Hayden

After many months, the search for WKU’s new associate provost of Graduate and Advanced Studies/associate vice president for Research has come up inconclusive.

Gordon Emslie, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, said there was not sufficient support for any of the three final candidates from the search committee.

Merrall Price, associate dean of the University College and a member of the search committee, said there was no candidate who seemed to fit what they were looking for.

“I think that after the three candidates came to campus, the faculty and staff put in their input, and there was no candidate that seemed the obvious choice,” she said. “We didn’t find anyone who was really exactly what we envisioned.

“Knowing what we know now, we might’ve done things a little differently.”

The search will not be extended but is considered failed, Emslie said. This means the university will be starting a new search from scratch, which includes creating a new search committee.

“We have to think about a new search committee and sit down and discuss the previous search and what improvements we could possibly make,” he said.

Emslie said that while the search committee will be a new one, it may include some of the same people. He would also like to use this search as a lesson.

“I think all search committees learn a lot about the search process and the job in particular,” he said. “I think it’d be useful to draw on some of the experience, but it will not necessarily be the same search committee.”

However, Emslie said he would not rule out putting some of the same people on the search committee, and Price said she would like to continue to be on it.

The position would report to both Emslie and Gordon Baylis, vice president for Research, but Baylis said the description was not defined specifically and was left open for interpretation.

However, because of the failed search, the position description may be rewritten and clarified, Price said.

“That’s in part what may have put people off a little bit,” she said. “It wasn’t clear from the old job advertisement where the person fit in the university.

“We’re hoping if we change it around some, we can do a better thing. Emslie once said, ‘We don’t want to hire an average person for this job.’ So in other words, it’s better not to have anyone in this position than to hire someone who is just okay.”

The three finalists were Kinchel Doerner, current interim dean of Graduate Studies and Research at WKU; Jennifer Keane-Dawes, current dean of Graduate Studies at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore; and Bruce Landman, the current interim and founding dean of Mathematics and Science at the University of West Georgia.

For now, Doerner will continue to serve as interim dean. Emslie said there is not an official time set to reopen the search, but it will not be long before they begin.