Committee discusses reference checks

In an effort to keep the playing field even, members of the Dickinson State University presidential search committee opted not to advance any candidates until they review them all.

In an effort to keep the playing field even, members of the Dickinson State University presidential search committee opted not to advance any candidates until they review them all.

The group met Tuesday morning to review reference calls made by committee members.

The committee was established after DSU President Dr. Lee Vickers announced his retirement. Vickers intends to retire at the end of the year, or as soon thereafter as possible to ensure a smooth transition.

During the previous meeting, committee Chair Pam Kostelecky assigned members to make reference calls to the first seven candidates. The group looked at nine candidates, but opted not to consider two of them due to the fact they had not held a position higher than professor.

"I'd like to wait until we listen to the second round," committee member Hal Haynes said. "I have my opinion on some folks right now, but I would like to see the whole pool."


Kostelecky said sometimes opinions change after viewing the entire pool and reminded the members of the importance of not being discriminatory in its practices.

As of Tuesday's meeting, the candidate pool consists of 22 potential presidents. The committee eliminated a total of four people from consideration after Academic Search, the consultant firm hired by the North Dakota Board of Higher Education, determined the candidates did not meet the requirements. One other candidate withdrew her name.

Committee member Roger Ternes contacted references for candidate Dr. Homer Garcia. Garcia previously worked at a university that closed because of financial problems shortly after his departure.

"It's her opinion he got into a situation he was not aware of before he arrived," Ternes said about one of the references who had worked with Garcia at the closed university.

Ternes reported Henry Cogswell College was primarily a technology and engineering school.

Committee members made calls to references, hoping to learn more about the candidates in relation to their vision and leadership, management style, fiscal responsibility, communication skills, student interaction, technological savvy and ability to adapt in a rural environment, among others.

References for all of the candidates said the potential presidents would adapt well in the rural environment.

With varying levels of enthusiasm, many references said they would recommend the candidate to fill the role of president.


Candidate Dr. Paul Huo's references said he would make a good president, although he would focus more on consensus building behind the scenes than taking the limelight with visionary ideas.

"All five (references) said they'd gladly have him as president," Marty Odermann-Gardner said of candidate Dr. John Ryder.

Haynes said all three references he contacted regarding candidate Dr. Bruce Speck said he's at an ideal point in his career to take on the presidency.

"(References) defined him as a change agent and a champion for organizational change," Haynes said.

Committee member Paul Ebeltoft talked with references regarding candidate Dr. Anthony Koyzis, who has citizenship in the United States and in Greece.

"Everyone at Wayne State said they'd hate to see him go, but recognized he was on his way up," Ebeltoft said. "They said he is a person who has a world view, but also has a local perspective."

Committee member Dr. Corinne Krauss reviewed candidate Dr. Rodger Bates, who she said excels in leadership skills, according to his references.

"This particular candidate we were told is very involved in new, creative ideas," Krauss said.


Based on her reference calls, Krauss said Bates is able to form networks to accomplish goals, but doesn't necessarily build teams.

Committee members had a difficult time reaching references for candidate Dr. Richard McCallum, although the president of his current university resigned earlier this month.

According to the calls, either Garcia or Huo would bring the most technology savvy to the position of president.

Defining questions

During Tuesday's meeting, the group also discussed questions they would like to ask of the candidates during the neutral site interviews which are to be held Oct. 25-26 and 29. While the members agreed they liked the topics presented by Academic Search consultant Dr. Garry Owens, they wanted to focus more on Dickinson's values.

Some of the discussion centered on whether to ask questions on vision, leadership and the entrepreneurial spirit or to simply see if the candidate demonstrates those skills during the interview.

All of the members agreed they would like to ask questions that require the candidates to offer specific examples of their skills.

"Stock questions are sometimes the most revealing," Kostelecky said.


Although the group attempted to pare down the list of questions to ask perspective candidates, the members opted to finalize the list during their next meeting on Oct. 22.

By that meeting, members have also been assigned to make reference calls on the remaining candidates.

The remaining candidates include: Dr. Gary White at Chadron State College; Dr. Galan Janeksela at West Virginia University Institute of Technology; Dr. Alex Capdeville at Montana State University-Northern; Dr. William Nevious at Hudepohl & Associates; Richard Wueste at American-Chinese Corp. for Economic Development and Education; Dr. Gregory Aloia at Florida Atlantic University; David Garloff at Montana State University-Billings; Dr. Joseph Bascuas formerly at Medaille College; Kenneth Romines at Patten University; and Dr. Richard Brauhn at Dickinson State University.

Dr. Lemuel Berry Jr. Educational Consultant Inc. and Guy Mills at University of Texas of Permian Basin were removed from consideration because Academic Search determined they did not meet the requirements of the position.

Dr. Uma Gupta at State University of New York's Buffalo State College removed her name from consideration.

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