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MSU search moving forward

BY KATHLEEN FOX kfox@paducahsun.com

The Murray State presidential search committee spent the weekend interviewing a number of candidates as the university moves closer to the finish line of selecting its next president.

The 10-member council interviewed 10 candidates Saturday and Sunday at the Marriott Nashville Airport Hotel in Tennessee.

The council includes regents Stephen Williams, Susan Guess, Jerry Sue Thornton and Harry Lee Waterfield; student Regent Jeremiah Johnson; president of Faculty Senate Kevin Binfield; chairman of the accounting department Don Chamberlain; associate director of enrollment management Roslyn White; and alumna Martha Lewis.

The committee met in special-called meetings beginning at 7:30 a.m. both days before going into closed session to speak with the applicants, with each interview lasting about one hour and 30 minutes, said Williams, who serves as the committee chairman.

"I think we have met our next president," he said. "I believe the committee is comfortable that one of these fine candidates will rise to be our next president."

Williams commented on the diverse pool of candidates, the impressive level of experience and a palpable level of excitement among the group at the possibility of taking on the position at Murray State.

"The committee members left Nashville feeling proud of our university and that we are able to attract candidates of this caliber," he said.

Selection started more than three month ago when a profile was posted online and university-appointed search firm Witt/Kieffer of Oak Brook, Ill.. began collecting applications, which totaled about 65. That number was trimmed to 11 for the board to vet in-person.

Following that selection, a candidate's name was voluntarily taken from the running. The semifinalists were found through a formal nationwide search, Williams said.

The committee will spend the next several weeks conducting detailed background and reference checks on the remaining candidates.

The council will meet again Feb. 7 to narrow the 10 candidates down and recommend to the full board of regents two to four unranked names, said Catherine Sivills, assistant vice president of communications.

Sivills said the finalists will be invited to campus over the next several days for interviews with the entire board and visits with different campus groups tentatively scheduled for March 11-14.

The board will make a final decision during its quarterly meeting in March with the new president to replace interim president Tim Miller by July 1.

The names will be released when the applicants are narrowed down to the final grouping. A schedule for the March visits is being finalized and should be complete within the next several weeks, Sivills said.

Contact Kathleen Fox, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8651 or follow @kathleendfox on Twitter.

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