WCU trustees name committee to search for Bardo’s successor

The Western Carolina University Board of Trustees appointed a 16-member committee drawn from WCU faculty, students, staff, alumni and administration and from the surrounding community on Friday, Oct. 29 to help select the university’s next chancellor. The action came during the board’s annual retreat. 

The trustees also unanimously approved the hiring of Baker and Associates, a national executive search firm with offices in Winston-Salem and Atlanta, to guide the process of recruiting a successor for John W. Bardo, who announced on Oct. 11 his plans to retire July 1 after more than 15 years as WCU chancellor. Baker and Associates has conducted more than 40 searches in North Carolina for academic and non-profit institutions, including those for new chancellors at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and N.C. State University. 

“We face an extraordinary opportunity in continuing the momentum this university has achieved and in extending the multitude of successes this university has enjoyed over the past 15 years,” said Steve Warren, chair of the WCU trustees, and who also will serve as chair of the chancellor search committee. 

One of the members of the committee, Daniel Dorsey, president of the Student Government Association and a WCU communications major, said his role on the committee would be to advocate for what the students at Western Carolina would want to see in a new chancellor. He has scheduled a forum to be held on Nov. 22 from 3 to 4 p.m. in the UC Theatre for students to voice their thoughts and opinions to him on the subject. In the meantime, he has his own opinions for what he would like to see in the new chancellor. 

“Personally, I would like to see someone who is going to take WCU to a new level,” Dorsey said. “Chancellor Bardo has already done a good job of that during his tenure. Under his chancellorship, he has made a degree from WCU more valuable, i.e. raising admission standards, limiting the number of students we admit, etc.” 

Dorsey is not taking the task of picking a successor calmly. 

“I am a little nervous about the whole thing,” Dorsey said. “It is not the normal duties of the Student Body President to help in the selection process of a new chancellor.”

In addition to Warren and Dorsey, members of the search committee are:

Gerald Kiser, member of the Board of Trustees and a 1969 graduate of WCU with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. Kiser, of Columbia, S.C., is former chief executive officer of La-Z-Boy Inc.

Joan MacNeill, current member and past chair of the Board of Trustees. A resident of Webster, McNeill is former president and chief operating officer of Great Smoky Mountains Railway.

Virginia “Tommye” Saunooke of Cherokee, a WCU trustee and member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Tribal Council. Saunooke earned two degrees at WCU—a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1996 and a master’s degree in public affairs in 2006. 

Teresa Williams of Huntersville. A member of the trustees, Williams currently serves as board secretary. 

Charles Worley, vice chair of WCU’s trustees. An Asheville attorney, Worley served as mayor of Asheville from 2001 until 2005. 

 A.J. Grube, head of WCU’s Department of Business Administration and Law, and Sport Management. Grube formerly served as assistant to the chancellor for equal opportunity programs, and she is a former associate vice chancellor for academic affairs. 

Erin McNelis, current chair of the WCU Faculty Senate. McNelis, associate professor of mathematics and computer science, has been on the WCU faculty since 2002. 

Billy Ogletree, head of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. Ogletree has been a faculty member at Western Carolina since 1992. 

William Frady, chair of the WCU Staff Senate. Manager of instructional and student computing in the Division of Information Technology, Frady holds two degrees from WCU – a bachelor’s degree in biology in 1999 and master’s degree in education in 2005. 

Carol Burton, associate vice chancellor for undergraduate studies. Burton, who guided WCU’s recent successful bid for reaccreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and School, earned a bachelor’s degree in 1987 in nutrition and dietetics and master’s degree in education in 1989, both from WCU. 

Betty Jo Allen, president of the WCU Alumni Association. A resident of Lincolnton, Allen is a 1968 graduate of Western Carolina and is a retired public school teacher. 

 Kenny Messer, a former president of the WCU Alumni Association and past-president of the Catamount Club Board of Directors. A 1986 graduate of WCU, Messer is an executive with Milliken Corp. and lives in Greenville, S.C.

Phil Walker, former chair of the WCU Board of Trustees. A senior vice president with BB&T, Walker is a 1971 graduate of Western Carolina and chair of the recently completed Campaign for Western Carolina, which raised more than $52 million in private support. 

Scott Hamilton, president and chief executive officer of Advantage West, the regional economic development commission of Western North Carolina. Hamilton lives in Henderson County. 

The committee will work closely with Baker and Associates to identify a pool of candidates for the chancellor’s post and be charged with recommending its top candidates to the WCU Board of Trustees. The trustees then will forward the names of at least two nominees to new University of North Carolina system President Tom Ross. The UNC president will present his recommendation to the full UNC Board of Governors for final consideration and approval. 

The search committee will have its first meeting from 10 a.m. to Noon on Tuesday, Nov. 16 in the multipurpose room of Blue Ridge Residence Hall with Ross, who will share his thoughts on the characteristics needed in the person to succeed Bardo.

In addition, Jerry Baker, lead consultant with Baker and Associates, will brief the committee on the timing and process of the search. At the same time, he will listen as search committee members share their thoughts about the chancellorship, the priorities of the university, the most important aspects of the job, and the background of candidates who should be considered for the position, according to a release sent by Terry Welch, assistant to the chancellor who also is serving as secretary to the search committee.