Presidential search may end in September

UTD may have a new president as early as September, just less than a year after President Franklyn Jenifer’s resignation last October, according to search committee members.

While the search committee is still narrowing down nominees, the committee’s timetable calls for interviews at DFW airport in August. The committee then expects to submit at least five finalists to the UT System Board of Regents for review at the end of August. Campus interviews could begin in September.

“We’re doing pretty well compared to (presidential searches) elsewhere,” said Teresa Sullivan, search committee chair and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs – who also headed the UT Arlington presidential search.

Robert Nelsen, search committee member and UTD professor, said the committee anticipates narrowing down approximately 100 nominations to 12 for airport interviews. At its last meeting May 10, the search committee narrowed down 25 candidates to five.

“I think there are some very, very good candidates right now,” Nelsen said. “And, (the search committee) has shown enthusiasm for several of the candidates.”

At its July 29 meeting, Nelsen said the search committee will select the candidates they want to invite for airport interviews.

“We are still getting nominations,” Sullivan said. “We’re not finished with that phase yet. Someone looking to get in the hunt has got another six weeks to do so.”

The airport interviews will take place sometime in late September or early August, but the time and location will not be disclosed due to candidate confidentiality.

“We do it at a busy place because you could have a lot of reasons for going to DFW. If we brought them to campus it would be suspicious,” Sullivan said.

After the candidates are reviewed and selected as finalists by the regents, the candidates’ names will be made public and students will be allowed to meet and question the potential presidents.

Sullivan added she doesn’t think the search committee will have all of the potential candidates’ airport interviews before the regents meeting Aug. 11 and the regents don’t have a scheduled meeting again until November.

“We don’t want to wait that long, so (the regents) will call a special meeting for this purpose,” Sullivan said. “They will try to meet pretty quickly because they know it’s important to the campus.”

After the campus interviews, the decision of who becomes UTD’s president is ultimately up to the regents.

The selection of this president is a critical decision for the growth of UTD, according to a report commissioned by the UT System.

In a report published by the consulting firm Washington Advisory Group (WAG) on May 7, one factor in UTD’s ability to reach top-tier status will include the selection of a “first-class president.”

“(The new UTD president) should be an accomplished scientist or engineer and a strategic thinker,” the WAG report stated. “He or she should have both the reputation and the personality to coax funds from the Dallas philanthropic community and the state, and the administrative capacity to appoint an excellent executive team and, with them, execute the planned programs with courage, judgment, and precision.”

The System contracted WAG last July and initiated the report as a way to increase accountability and areas of improvement for each UT System academic institution.

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