As Dickinson State University's presidential search committee proves, a good first impression is often the most important for any job applicant. At this stage, this means the members are weighing every word in the applicants' cover letters. The c...
As Dickinson State University's presidential search committee proves, a good first impression is often the most important for any job applicant.
At this stage, this means the members are weighing every word in the applicants' cover letters.
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.
"Lee Vickers' packet was the best presented document in terms of looks, in terms of content," committee member Paul Ebeltoft said of the presidential search that yielded the current leader.
Committee members agreed they would be uncomfortable selecting a candidate whose cover letter doesn't relate to the specifications in DSU's advertisement.
"The letter really tells us...a lot about these people, good or bad," said Dr. Garry Owens, a consultant with Academic Search, the company hired by the North Dakota Board of Higher Education to assist in the search.
Tuesday's discussion focused largely on the nine candidates who were first to apply. Though by Oct. 1, Academic Search had processed 11 candidates, not all committee members had seen the most recent two.
With the deadline for applications passing Oct. 1, there are 19 candidates for Vickers' job. However, Owens said the committee won't rule out late entries.
Although not all candidates are ideal, committee member Pam Wilz said she is hesitant to rule someone out completely, as each applicant has positive qualities.
"I often play devil's advocate, because you can get answers for yourself," committee Chair Pam Kostelecky said. "If one person thinks there's value, it's worth looking at the candidate."
Though the group initially said it would not definitively rule out any candidates until the Oct. 16 meeting, it chose to do the first round of reference checks on seven of nine applicants.
Owens said Academic Search helps to prepare a list of themes to discuss with the references. The committee added a few, including questions on diversity, innovation and working in a rural setting.
Owens suggested committee members conduct search engine checks as part of the process. That means simply plugging the applicant's name into Google, AltaVista, or any other search engine, to learn more about the candidate.
"It may be difficult, but I think it helps to look," Owens said. "It's a valuable look at people."
As three of the 11 candidates are deans, Ebeltoft raised the concern whether that would make a good leap to president. Owens said in many ways deans often have similar roles to presidents, and it may not be enough alone to rule out any candidate.
Committee member Dr. Corinne Krauss, who already did preliminary search engine checks, said she had concerns with a couple of candidates.
The committee did not eliminate either candidate during Tuesday's meeting.
Though the committee did not address his application because it was one of the latter two entered into the system so far, former DSU department agriculture and technical studies Chair Dr. Gary White applied for the position.
Ebeltoft said in the interest of full disclosure, he considered White a friend but did not know White would apply and would still be willing to consider him as a candidate.
The committee meets again in two weeks on Oct. 16 to narrow the list of candidates to approximately 10.
Once the list is narrowed, the committee holds its first round of interviews, likely to be conducted using the Interactive Video Network during the last week in October.
Moving forward, the committee agreed to use either of two screening forms for the candidates' applications as a launching point for discussions.
"I feel very comfortable in saying because of our open records and open meeting laws...we've got candidates who are very serious across the system," Kostelecky said.
Owens said five of the six who have yet to be processed have been or currently are presidents at their institutions.
As of Oct. 1, the list of candidates includes: Galan Janeksela at West Virginia University Institute of Technology; Gary White at Chadron State College; Richard MaCallum at Missouri Southern State University; Anthony Koyzis at Wayne State College; Bruce Speck at Austin Peay State University; Terrance Hitchcock at Argosy University; Paul Huo at Henderson State University; John Ryder at State University of New York System; Homer Garcia formerly at Henry Cogswell College; Martin Shapiro at Berkeley Colleges, New York and New Jersey; and Rodger Bates at New Mexico State University Outreach.
Hitchcock and Shapiro were excluded from moving on to the next step of reference checks due to their lack of experience. The former serves as an adjunct faculty member and the latter is a professor of marketing, management and international business.