Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Presidential Finalists at EKU: Let the vetting begin

Long time KSN&C readers know that, every once in a while, we vet candidates for certain positions of importance to education in Kentucky. The way we go about it is fairly raw.  Using journalistic databases along with the more common search engines and social networking sites we see what is in the public record. Sometimes we are led into the individual’s own research when it appears to be germane. But we don’t clean up the record.  Rather, we dump most of it “as is” for readers to look over and determine for themselves what it means. The process produces a lot of stuff for folks to wade through.

We played an important role in the selection (or is it de-selection) of candidates to become Kentucky Education Commissioner in 2007 (when Barbara Erwin resigned before taking office under when, along with the Bluegrass Institute, we discovered numerous lies on her resume) and again in 2009 (when we discovered a creationist paper written by finalist Dennis Cheek which the candidate had tried to conceal from the Board of Education). Cheek was not selected. We have vetted, to varying degrees, candidates for superintendent in Fayette and Jefferson Counties.  

Today we begin looking at the finalists for president of Eastern Kentucky University, and at a glance, it doesn’t appear to be a fair fight. At least, it appears that only one candidate has a long and string of items on the public record related to scholarship and leadership in higher education. So far it appears that the other two finalists, having never served in the top job (one is a Dean and the other a VP for Finance) have produced a thinner public record – so we will likely have less to report.

The finalists are:

·         Michael T. Benson, Ph.D. Dr. Michael T. Benson Bio
President, Southern Utah University and Professor of Political Science
Dr Benson will visit EKU Sunday Evening, March 24 to Tuesday Noon, March 26, 2013. Dr. Michael T. Benson’s Campus Schedule here.

·         Alan T. Shao, Ph.D. Dr. Alan Shao Bio
Dean, School of Business, College of Charleston and Professor of Marketing

·         Gregg Lassen, Ph.D. Dr. Gregg Lassen Bio
Vice President for Finance and Operations, Lamar University.

We can tell you that Lassen was a finalist for the Presidency of Lamar University, where he presently serves, but was passed overlast week in favor of a candidate from outside the system.

We looked for on-campus reaction from the places where the finalists presently work, and again, found it for one candidate but not the other two.

The first candidate to visit EKU will be Michael T. Benson, starting Monday. In the near future we will tell you more than you want to know about him. But for now,

This from The Spectrum, March 20, 2013.

Benson finalist at E. Kentucky

SUU president was approached by EKU

Southern Utah University President Michael T. Benson is one of three finalists for the presidency of Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, Ky.

The position is open because of the impending retirement of President Charles Whitlock, according to an announcement on the EKU website.

Dean O’Driscoll, vice president of university relations for SUU, said although it is speculation at this time, if Benson were selected as the next president of EKU, those he worked with at SUU would have mixed feelings.

“We would hate to lose a great leader, but we also would congratulate him on a new step in his career ladder that would lead him in a direction that he has chosen to go,” O’Driscoll said.

He also said his understanding is that Benson was approached to compete as a candidate for the EKU position. People who assist with presidential level searches often employ search firms to locate suitable candidates.

“That’s just a compliment to him and it’s a compliment to Southern Utah University that they would seek him out as somebody they would like to consider for that job, whether he is selected or not,” O’Driscoll said.

According to the EKU website, the other two candidates being considered for the position are Gregg Lassen, vice president for finance and operations at Lamar University, and Alan T. Shao, dean of the College of Charleston business school.

In response to the revelation of his candidacy for the presidency at EKU, Benson released a statement. He is scheduled to visit the campus for an interview next week. The search committee conducting the recruitment for the EKU presidency is expected to make its final decision in early April.

“Debi and I are honored to be sought out for this position at Eastern Kentucky University and to be among the final group of candidates,” Benson said. “While the process at EKU is still ongoing, we remain committed to SUU, and are extremely excited about the future and the various initiatives and projects currently underway.”

O’Driscoll said if Benson is selected to lead EKU, the search for a new SUU president would be conducted by the state Commissioner’s Office of Higher Education and the Board of Regents.
“The Board of Regents has traditionally put together a search committee for presidential searches, and it’s a very thorough vetting process that they go through,” he said, adding that the committee conducts a national search.

O’Driscoll said SUU has approximately 8,000 students, including undergraduates and graduate students, and EKU has approximately 16,000 students.

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