Search for Ogden dean reaches end stage at WKU

Joanna Williams

When dean of Ogden College Blaine Ferrell announced his retirement in April, WKU moved quickly to find someone who could not only fill his role, but also lead Ogden College into the future.

Since Ferrell’s announcement, a search committee has been put together and have been filing through applications and selecting finalist to come visit campus and interview since the middle of June.

A total of 47 applications were submitted for the position.

David Lee, dean of Potter College of Arts and Letters and head of the search committee, said the committee spent two months selecting finalists to visit WKU.

While at WKU, the candidates toured the campus, met with Gordon Emslie, provost and vice-president for Academic Affairs and met with Ogden students.

 Each candidate also participated in an open forum where they were able to present themselves and their plans for Ogden if chosen.

The final candidates are Lou Reinisch, from Jacksonville State University; Tony Skjellum from the University of Alabama-Birmingham; and Cheryl Stevens from Xavier University of Louisiana.

Glenn Prater from the University of Louisville took part in an open forum, but withdrew from the search before the interview process was complete.

Lee said the committee wanted candidates who they felt could handle the changes Ogden College will soon be going through.

“We were looking at folks who had strong careers in the fields of Ogden College,” Lee said. “We looked for folks with administrative experience and we looked for people who were excited to work with the things going on in Ogden.”

Some of those things include a stronger emphasis on student and faculty research, technology and how Ogden can impact economic development.

Now that the forums have concluded the committee is putting together a report that consists of the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate, which will be presented to Emslie, who will make the final decision on the hire.

Emslie said the actual selection process for the new dean moves fairly quickly and he expects a candidate to be chosen by the end of the month with hopes they can begin on Jan. 1.

Emslie said once the candidate is chosen and they accept the offer, they can come back to the Hill to make sure WKU is a good fit for them.

“It’s supposed to make sure the university is a good match for them,” he said. “Because this is a big career move.”

Erlanger senior Noah Onkst worked on  the search committee and said that he was excited to be close to choosing a new dean.

“Our current dean is going great, and our college is going great, but to have a new dean is really exciting,” he said.

Onkst said that whoever is chosen for the position will have major role in the future of WKU.

“Obviously the dean has a lot of power,” he said. “With the provost and the university pushing for research this dean is going to be an important addition in the next few years.”