Friday, April 29, 2005

Drury Announces Presidential Finalists

Waiting until the next to very last minute, Drury University has finally announced the names of the three finalists to replace retiring John Moore.

All three finalists will visit Drury next week, beginning Monday, May 2nd. Details will go up on Drury's web site later today. Here's a preview from a leaked news release:

Three finalists have been chosen by the Drury University Presidential Search Committee. They are:

  • John Sellars, Senior Vice President for Institutional Advancement, Syracuse University, Syracuse, N.Y.
  • Janet McNew, Provost and Dean of the Faculty, Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, Ill.
  • Sharon Smith, Dean of the Schools of Business, Dean of the Faculty of Business and Professor of Management Systems, Fordham University, New York, N.Y.

“We are thrilled and very impressed with this group of finalists,” said search committee chairman John Beuerlein. “Each one of these people brings wonderful skills and talents to the table, yet each has his or her unique strengths. It’s an exciting group.”

Each candidate will spend two days on campus. Sellars will visit on May 2–3, McNew on May 4–5 and Smith on May 6–7. Each visit will include meetings and discussions with students, faculty, staff, alumni and community and civic leaders, and President John E. Moore, Jr.

“Each of these candidates has already learned a lot about Drury through the search and interview process,” said Beuerlein. “These visits will give them a chance to experience Drury in person, to meet some of the people they would work with, and to feel the very strong sense of community that is one of Drury’s unique features.”

Each finalist has already been interviewed twice by the presidential search committee. Before interviews began, the committee reviewed about 80 applications, narrowing the field to 11. Following the campus visits, the committee will recommend one candidate to the board of trustees, which meets May 12 and 13.

Nice to see that two women are among the finalists.

Janet McNew served as acting president at a church-affiliated small, private, liberal arts university when its president died from cancer. She is from the southeast, but has been in the midwest since 1979. From 1979–1993 she was assistant, associate and finally professor of English at the College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University, Collegeville, Minn. McNew has been at Illinois Weslyan since 1993. She has written extensively on university administration and dealing with difficult situations, especially at private liberal arts colleges. Drury is facing some difficult times and her leadership may be beneficial.

Sharon Smith has been at the Jesuit university of New York since 1990. Her academic and professional background is largely east coast: Princeton University and Rutgers University, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and AT&T. Strong business background which could be beneficial for fundraising and Drury's business school. But will she be happy in Springfield? Smith has three degrees (Bachelor's, Masters, Doctorate) from the same institution in the same field, economics. Some might find that troubling.

John Sellars has close ties to Missouri. He received his bachelors degrees from Central Missouri State University, continued his education at the University of Missouri-Columbia, where he received the master in public administration and the Ph.D. Post-graduate studies include the Institute for Educational Management at Harvard University and the Strategic Planning and Higher Education Marketing program at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. His bio specifically mentions the need for presidents of private universities to do fundraising, something at which John Moore was very, very good.

Sellars has an extraordinarily deep understanding of how private universities operate and succeed, an expertise born not simply of personal success but also his scholarship in the field.

Does this give him an inside track?

It will be interesting to see how the local media deal with this, given the recent search for a new SMSU president and another for Springfield public school superintendant. It will also be interesting to watch how Drury spins the search decisions.