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Ohio State Presidential Search Committee to begin looking at candidates

OSU Presidential Search Committee advisory subcommittee convener Deborah Jones Merritt (left) and Search Committee Chair Jeffery Wadsworth speak at a meeting Sept. 17. Credit: Liz Young / Campus editor

OSU Presidential Search Committee advisory subcommittee convener Deborah Jones Merritt (left) and Search Committee Chair Jeffery Wadsworth speak at a meeting Sept. 17.
Credit: Liz Young / Campus editor

With the presidential profile set to be voted into place by the Ohio State Board of Trustees and the university portrait nearing completion, the Presidential Search Committee will soon be looking at specific candidates.

The presidential profile is an eight-page document that describes the qualities of the ideal candidate, which OSU plans to send to potential candidates. The document is set to be approved by the Board of Trustees at its meeting Nov. 7 and 8. The university portrait is a 30 to 40 page document intended to be a recruitment tool to inform candidates of OSU’s attractive qualities.

Advisory subcommittee convener Deborah Jones Merritt, an OSU Moritz College of Law professor, talked with The Lantern Thursday about what the rest of the search process will be like.

 

Confidentiality

A university statement Sunday read all candidates and finalists will be kept private. Merritt reaffirmed this, adding that it’s normal for universities to keep those in consideration confidential.

“(It used to be) universities would bring three or five finalists to campus, their names would be public, everybody could come and meet them in a forum and so forth,” Merritt said. However, that isn’t the case anymore.

She said a similar private process was in place when OSU was looking for a president in 2007.

“The search that brought (OSU President Emeritus E. Gordon) Gee to campus, he was a completely confidential candidate as were the other finalists at that time,” Merritt said. “This is not anything special or different.”

Merritt said there will be public updates from Presidential Search Committee Chair Jeffrey Wadsworth at every Board meeting about where the process is, though.

The search committee has hired a private search firm to assist with recruiting a new president.

OSU’s contract with private search firm R. William Funk & Associates was finalized Tuesday. OSU will be paying the firm a fixed fee of $200,000, as well as reimbursing the firm for direct, out-of-pocket expenses and an additional cost of $20,000 to cover administrative and support expenses, according to the contract.

 

Finalization

Merritt said the advisory subcommittee has several more open forums scheduled to gather more feedback from the OSU community about the desired qualities of the next university president. The committee has already held at least 30 other forums.

Besides that, Merritt said the subcommittee will work on finishing the university portrait. At a Presidential Search Committee meeting Tuesday, Merritt said the portrait was originally intended to be finished by mid-September but is now expected to be completed in early October.

 

Look at candidates

There were about 700 presidential candidate and presidential qualities comment submissions on the Presidential Search Committee’s website as of Sunday, according to a university statement emailed to The Lantern Sunday by OSU assistant vice president of media and public relations Gayle Saunders. The Lantern has filed a request for the submissions.

Merritt said those submissions have been noted and put into spreadsheets for committee members to look at.

“We have been printing those and distributing them periodically to the whole committee,” Merritt said, adding that even joke submissions like “Alli Gator” have been included amongst the notes at this point in the process.

“The committee is absolutely getting all of that,” Merritt said.

It has been more than three months since Gee announced his retirement June 4. Gee retired July 1, the same day interim President Joseph Alutto assumed the position.

The announcement of Gee’s retirement came days after controversial remarks Gee made at a Dec. 5 OSU Athletic Conference became public. Comments about Notre Dame and the Southeastern Conference in particular, brought national attention.

Wadsworth said July 19 the process is expected to take about 300 days based on how long searches take at other universities that are considering outside candidates.

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