Search committee develops interview questions for WCU’s next chancellor

The 16-member search committee tasked with helping select Western Carolina University’s next chancellor has developed a list of questions it will use as it gets down to the serious business of interviewing candidates for the job.

The committee, working with the Baker and Associates executive recruitment firm and with Ann Lemmon, associate vice president for human resources for the University of North Carolina system, spent about two hours Thursday, Jan. 27, discussing specific questions that it will ask of all candidates during interviews.

Committee members worked to ensure that the questions they ask incorporate themes and concerns raised at November’s public forums, which were held to enable WCU’s constituent groups – faculty, staff, students, alumni, community members and fans of intercollegiate athletics – to have a voice in the process.

The questions will cover topics including leadership, management, financial management, strategic vision, student learning and research, external relations and fundraising, and faculty and staff issues.

Jerry Baker, lead consultant for Baker and Associates, also updated committee members on his evaluation of candidates he has seen so far to succeed John W. Bardo, who announced in October his plans to step down from the WCU chancellorship this summer after more than 15 years in the position.

“I see several future chancellors in the candidate pool. There are some truly terrific leaders there,” Baker said.

Biographical information about the candidates is shared with search committee members through a confidential, password-protected website.

The committee will meet again Tuesday, Feb. 15, at the offices of AdvantageWest in Asheville to discuss the top candidates and to narrow the pool to between eight and 10 candidates to be selected to participate in off-campus interviews. Discussion of individual candidates will take place during closed session, in accordance with the state’s open meetings laws, which permit public bodies to go into closed session to consider the qualifications of prospective public officers or employees.

The goal is for the committee to complete its work and recommend its top choices to the WCU Board of Trustees so that the board can forward the names of at least three nominees to Tom Ross, president of the University of North Carolina system. Ross then will present his recommendation to the full UNC Board of Governors for final consideration and approval.

Steve Warren, chair of the WCU Board of Trustees and chair of the search committee, said it is the goal to have a new chancellor named and ready to lead the university by July 1.