Chancellor search now in hands of UNC president

The search committee tasked with helping select Western Carolina University’s next chancellor has recommended a final slate of candidates, and that list is now in the hands of the president of the University of North Carolina system.

The search committee has been working since late October to help identify a successor for John W. Bardo. Chancellor at WCU since March 1995, Bardo announced last fall his plans to step down from the position this summer.

After interviewing a number of top candidates during a series of “airport interviews” March 4-5 in Atlanta, the search committee provided a list of finalists to the WCU Board of Trustees for consideration.

The WCU board, during a special meeting Tuesday, March 15, agreed on a list of at least three finalists that has been forwarded to Tom Ross, UNC president, who will make his recommendation to the UNC Board of Governors for final approval.

Search committee chair Steve Warren, who also is chair of the Board of Trustees, said the committee is on schedule to meet its goal of having a new chancellor named and ready to lead the university by July 1.

“Although I cannot tell you specifics about the candidates, I can tell you this: The quality of those who want to be your next chancellor is outstanding, and their credentials are stellar,” Warren said in correspondence to the campus community.

“The reason is simple. It is because of the leadership of Chancellor John Bardo over these past 16 years, and it is because of the contributions of all of you who teach and work at Western Carolina to help implement a shared vision of excellence,” he said. “Together, you have taken this university to another level. Everyone wants to play on a winning team, and Western Carolina is a winner.”

The Board of Trustees appointed the 16-member search committee on Oct. 29, with its membership drawn from WCU faculty, students, staff, alumni, trustees and community members.

Throughout the process, the committee has worked with Jerry Baker of Baker and Associates, a national executive search firm with offices in Winston-Salem and Atlanta, and with Ann Lemmon, associate vice president for human resources for the UNC system.

At the committee’s first meeting on Nov. 16, members received their official charge from Ross, who provided the group with a long list of the characteristics and qualifications he would like to see in WCU’s next chancellor.

The committee scheduled a series of open forums designed to solicit public input in the process. Members spent four hours listening Nov. 22 as faculty, staff, students, alumni, community neighbors and fans of intercollegiate athletics shared their thoughts about the university’s next chancellor and the future direction of WCU.

Committee members used what they learned during those sessions and from responses to an online questionnaire to develop a detailed position description and leadership statement designed to attract highly qualified candidates to the job. Those documents were finalized in December.

From a large number of applicants and nominees collected by Baker and Associates, the committee identified a pool of candidates for further consideration and examined extensive biographical information about each of the candidates. The committee gathered Feb. 15 at the offices of AdvantageWest in Asheville to narrow the pool to those candidates who were invited to participate in the off-campus interviews earlier this month in Atlanta.

For more information, visit the search committee website at