Presidential Pursuit

Trustees seek Bennett’s replacement

Riley Guerzini, News Editor

Abigail Stanley
The university Board of Trustees will put together a search committee in the coming weeks to begin looking for candidates for the next President of USI.

The university Board of Trustees will begin their search for the next President of USI within the coming weeks.

Chairman of the Board of Trustees Harold Calloway said the Board will be forming a search committee within the next couple weeks to begin their search President Linda Bennett’s replacement, who announced her retirement at a faculty meeting in August.

The committee will be constructed of people from all segments of the university, including faculty, administration and students. Steve Leo from Storbeck Pimentel and Associates, a company that specializes in assisting in administrative searches at many universities, will aid the committee.

“We want someone who is a proven leader, a proven communicator, a person who has love for the students and love for the community and for faculty,” Calloway said. “I’m not sure how close we can get to that but that’s the caliber of person we are looking at.”

The average tenure of a university president is eight and a half years according to a 2006 survey done by the American Council on Education.

“We are still early in the process,” said Trustee Ted Ziemer. “Hopefully, we will be moving forward soon.”

Ziemer said the Board will be looking at candidates who already work at the university as well as off-campus candidates.

Bennett, who became President in 2009, is the university’s third President since it was founded in 1965. Bennett’s predecessor, Ray Hoops, served as President from 1994-2009 and USI’s first President, David Rice, served for 27 years between 1967-1994.

Calloway said the Board will be taking their time with the decision and want to make sure they hire the best candidate.

“We can go real fast and get it done and get it over with or we can methodically go through it based on where we have been, knowing that history, knowing where we are now and knowing where we want to go,” he said.

Calloway said he has cut back on activities outside the university, including his job, in order to focus more on finding a new President.

“This is a really important position we are trying to fill,” he said. “I think to give less than 100 percent would not be good for the university students or the faculty.”

Under Bennett, the university completed its first strategic plan along with the completed construction of the Griffin Center, Performance Center and the Business and Engineering building.

“Dr. Bennett has a great attention to detail,” Ziemer said. “She gives all issues, big and small, the adequate attention and I think she will serve as an excellent model for our next President.”