The Teacher’s College at Emporia State started the search for a new dean after the announcement that the current dean, Kenneth Weaver, would be retiring at the end of this academic year. Two candidates were brought out as finalists and neither were selected.
“We’ll stop the search and let it go dormant for a while. We’ll start a new search in the following academic year,” said David Cordle, provost. “A dean position is a very complex position. There are a lot of varied responsibilities that require a varied set of abilities. It’s hard to find everything you’re looking for in a single candidate.”
In the meantime, an interim dean was picked to step in.
“I thought about it a little bit, but it’s not because I didn’t want to do it,” said Joan Brewer, associate dean of the teachers college and selected interim dean. “I just one, really wanted to think about the position, and then the other thing is in my role as associate dean one of my main focuses is accreditation…I wanted to make sure in assuming the role of interim dean we would be able to find a way to balance the need to keep the accreditation process moving forward.”
The position of interim dean is one that will last for a year, and if another dean isn’t selected, there is no guarantee that Brewer will be interim again the following year. An advantage of the interim position is that Brewer will get the chance to test the position before deciding if she would be interested in trying to become the dean, according to Brewer.
In order to find a new dean for any college, there is a search committee that is established in order to help decide on who could possibly be a good fit and to select finalists, according to Cordle.
“There’s a search committee,” Cordle said. “Their job is to advertise the opening and recruit candidates, evaluate the candidates, bring in a small number as finalists, gather input from people who have interacted with the finalists, and then the search committee makes a recommendation on which candidate or candidates may be viable for an offer.”
There were two candidates brought to ESU for an open forum and to be evaluated. The first was James Sottile from Missouri State, and the second was Cecil Smith from West Virginia University.
“I think what they were looking at collectively is though both of them had the right elements as far as they met the criteria to get the first look, and what they didn’t have was some of the extra things in the area of experience, either with public schools or in accreditation, some of the blocking and tackling,” said Ed Bashaw, dean of the Business College.
As head of the committee, Bashaw did not have a vote on who he thought would be the better candidate, so he searched for other things that he deemed important.
“I didn’t vote at all. My job was to get the committee together and organize them and help them decide what they were looking for,” Bashaw said. “In discussions I would have with the committee, it was ‘Do I think this person would be a good colleague?’”
The two candidates were selected from many other candidates to be brought down because the search committee thought they had the qualifications to be the next dean, but something fell short.
“I don’t want to say anything negative about any of the candidates because they were really quite good,” said Cordle. “In order to feel good about making an offer, you need to feel most of the boxes have been checked. We just didn’t quite feel we had that.”
Both candidates were brought down from their current colleges for their open forums at the expense of ESU.
“It does cost some money,” Cordle said. “Even at the front end of search there is cost involved in placing those ads and other expenses.”