The Presidential Search Committee and the Board of Trustees are in the final stages of deciding the next president of the university

The Presidential Search Committee and the Board of Trustees are in the final stages of deciding the next president of the university.

 On Jan. 14, the three co-chairs of the Presidential Search Committee announced that the semi-finalist phase of the search was completed, and there are four candidates still in the running. 

Tim Baxter, chair of the Board of Trustees, Jerrold Lavine, treasurer of the Board and Marcia Morris, vice chair, confirmed the committee had reviewed and evaluated a group of “qualified candidates” that were then narrowed down to eight. 

The committee was able to confirm eight candidates advanced to the interview phase, and that four finalists were identified. The interviews included a “uniform set of questions built around the institutional core values and priorities we heard throughout our listening sessions and online comments which were reflected in the Position Profile.” These questions prioritized diversity, inclusiveness and equity, and also expressed a desire for fundraising experience.

 The Hawks’ Herald asked how many applications were received, but the search committee declined to answer. Sources are not commenting on the race, sex or ethnicity of the candidates, but the committee confirmed that the finalists represent a breadth of diverse backgrounds and experiences. All members of the search committee are unable to comment due to the terms of their confidentiality agreements.   

The committee also opened the process to a wider group of RWU faculty, staff, students, alumni and trustees, who participated in the final phase of the search.

The profile of a typical university president is slowly changing, but still tends to be a white male in his early 60s, according to the American Council on Education (ACE). In 2017, 58 percent of college presidents are over 60 years old. 

Looking into RWU’s history, all but one president has been a white male. The university had one woman president, Virginia V. Sides, from 1976-1977. According to The Quill, the student newspaper during the time, she resigned less than a year into her presidency. 

According to ACE, 17 percent of college presidents are racial minorities and five percent are women of color. ACE reports that the percentage of minority college presidents has slowly increased over the last 30 years, and women of color are the most underrepresented in the presidential category. 

It is unclear when a university-wide announcement will be made once the committee and Trustees make their decision, but The Hawks’ Herald will continue to provide updates as they are made available.