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The people, news and ideas that shape NC State University

Choosing a Chancellor

By D'Lyn Ford

Faculty members shared their ideas for choosing the next chancellor during a search committee forum at the Talley Student Center. 

A laundry list of ideal qualities for NC State’s next chancellor emerged yesterday during the search committee’s open forums on campus. Faculty, staff, students and alumni urged committee members to look for:

  • A chancellor who understands and values research.
  • A leader who can help NC State expand its science and technology reputation to become a more comprehensive arts and humanities university.
  •  An accomplished fundraiser.
  •  A skilled administrator with proven business skills.
  •  A supporter of sustainability.
  •  A person who values diversity.
  •  A leader with integrity.
  •  A chancellor who’s accessible to students and connects with constituents.
  •  Someone who’s committed to the land-grant mission.
  •  A chancellor who understands North Carolina and can effectively work with legislators.
  •  A leader with a global vision for NC State.

Bob Jordan, search committee chair, said participants’ suggestions will be incorporated into a revised job description for the chancellor position. The committee is also seeking nominations of qualified candidates. Jordan encouraged attendees to share their ideas, either in person or through an online submission form.

The staff portion of the forum opened with comments from about a dozen people. Eva Holcomb, director of the Park Scholarships program, encouraged the committee to look for inspiring  leaders who are early in their careers. She advocated choosing a visionary who’s  “unafraid to talk about a culture of excellence here at NC State.”

Dr. Deb Luckadoo, campus activities director, asked the committee to keep diversity in mind during the selection process, noting that at upper administrative levels there are no people of color and that among the deans there are no females.

Sustainability Director Tracy Dixon, along with several other participants, requested a leader who’s committed to a more environmentally conscious campus that will help prepare students for careers in green businesses.

Dr. Russ O’Dell, development director in engineering, said the next chancellor must root out inefficiency and waste and find ways to raise money that can be used to move NC State forward. Above all, he said, the chancellor must possess integrity and value transparency, a need several participants cited.

During brief pauses between live comments, committee members read from a few of the several hundred e-mails they’ve received.

The next chancellor needs to be “someone who’s accessible and visible on campus,” wrote Cody Williams. Another person warned against promoting an internal candidate, saying “I think NC State has been held back by inadequate perspective from outside.”

For faculty members, finding a leader who understands the importance of research was a recurring theme. Dr. Gail Jones, a professor in the College of Education, asked the committee to “put research at the top of the list.”

Professors who are accomplished researcher provide students with an education that’s up-to-date, preparing  them to compete for jobs, several faculty members said.

“Excellence in research drives excellence in teaching and service,” said Professor Barbara Sherry from the College of Veterinary Medicine. “We need someone who understands what research has done and will do, and can communicate that,” said Dr. Steve Michielsen, a faculty member in  the College of Textiles.

However, faculty urged the committee not to limit their search to candidates with strong science and technology backgrounds. Tony Harrison, head of the English department, said NC State needs to become a more comprehensive university known for excellence in humanities as well as scientific and technical fields.

Dr. Chris Gould, associate dean in Physical and Math Sciences, was looking for a chancellor with serious qualifications as well as a sense of humor. “This person is going to need that,” he said.

The confidential search process, which drew criticism during the forum, prompted several faculty members to request a chat forum during the search that would allow them to interact with candidates.

Alumni and parents were looking for a chancellor who could quickly connect with NC State’s many constituent groups. “The growth of our state and challenges facing the university require the next chancellor to build relationships with North Carolina leaders and quickly gain the trust of people,” said Larry Wooten, president of North Carolina Farm Bureau.

“We want the best,” Wooten added. “The very best candidate may not apply and may have to be recruited by you and others.”

Peter Daniel, father of an NC State sophomore and alumni association president for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, cited the university’s leadership role.  “NC State is one reason we are poised to catch the next wave of economic growth.” He asked for a chancellor committed to the land-grant mission, which includes accessibility.

Alumni and parents urged the university not to become too restrictive in the chancellor search. “Don’t confine yourself to the world of academia,” said Jim Bray, a 1969 graduate.