The Youngstown State University presidential search committee — comprised entirely of Board of Trustee members — will meet next week to begin narrowing down the list of presidential candidates.
By Monday’s deadline, 37 candidates had applied for YSU’s top position. Harry Meshel, a member of the Board, positively commented on this list of applicants.
“It’s an extensive list,” Meshel said. “It’s as strong as the ones we’ve had in the past.”
Considering only the application material that the candidates have submitted, the Board will meet next week to discuss initial cuts that will be made to this list — a process that could take several days.
“I think the Board is interested in dealing with it expeditiously but thoroughly,” Meshel said. “So, it’s going to take three, or four, or five days before we determine who we are going to interview.”
Candidates who make the shortlist will be interviewed by the Board via Skype. After another round of cuts, finalists will be invited to YSU, where they will participate in face-to-face interviews with Board members and in open forum meetings with students and faculty.
No official deadlines have been determined, but the Board hopes to appoint a new president before June, as Ikram Khawaja, current interim provost, is set to retire June. 30.
While the search committee is comprised entirely of Board members and does not contain a faculty representative, committee members have ensured that they will choose a president capable of leading.
“The Board members will have to either stand or fall on their decision,” Meshel said. “We have a pretty good feeling for what the students feel like, but they can’t all vote. … There is nothing new to this. We know we need strong leadership. We know we need somebody who will be dedicated and devoted to the university — someone who has a strong interest and has someone who has served in the capacity that can produce strong leadership.”
Student trustees Eric Shehadi and Melissa Wasser have made an effort to stay in tune with the campus community, interacting with students so that they may adequately represent these students on the search committee.
“There are quite a few strong candidates, so without being too specific about any one of them, I’m pretty excited,” Shehadi said. “What I’ve heard from getting out and talking to people, [students] want someone who is ready to commit to YSU, they want someone who wants to be here and that is ready to lead our university to our future and to success. They want someone who is coming here to stay.”
Wasser agreed with Shehadi and added that, as a student trustee, she would make an effort to consider both student and faculty opinions.
“I think having two students on [the committee] really helps to represent the student body, and in a way we can also represent other groups on campus such as faculty and staff,” Wasser said. “I know that there are no faculty and staff on the current committee. In order to expedite the process, we did agree that it would only be the Board of Trustees. I think Eric and I can really take in the opinions of the YSU community.”
Meshel concluded that, while no one is perfect, he will make an effort to choose a candidate who is tried and proven.
“Perfection is an uncertain quality,” he said. “You don’t usually find that in every person with whom you deal, but you view what successes they’ve had in the past and how they’ve dealt with controversy and adversity and what was the ultimate result of their work and their efforts.”