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Search for new SRU president heating up

The committee searching for a new president at Slippery Rock University has interviewed “several” candidates in person but off campus, and the members intend to invite some of them to campus for further talks after Thanksgiving.

Jeff Smith, SRU trustee and chairman of the Presidential Search Committee, said Tuesday that about 100 people expressed interest in the position, and the committee is narrowing down the applicants.

“We want to finish as quickly as we can, but we want to make sure we do our due diligence,” Smith said. “There is a lot of interest for the position, and interest in the community is growing.”

SRU’s current president, William Behre, announced his retirement in February, planned to be effective June 30. The search committee formed shortly after to select a person to be Behre’s successor.

The search committee hired RPA Inc., a Williamsport-based executive search and consulting firm, to assist in the search. The firm is assisting with contact with constituency groups, which the search committee is consulting to learn about what different campus communities would like to see in a new president.

Smith said the search committee will base its recommendation to the SRU Council of Trustees on the interviews with the candidates and feedback received from the constituency groups. He also said the candidates the committee has met with so far have been exciting.

“Instead of having a town hall meeting where hundreds of people attend, there will be a meeting specifically for students, a meeting specifically for faculty,” Smith said. “Then the trustees would have to meet with them, the Board of Governors would meet with them; they will meet with the president’s cabinet.”

While the committee does not have a solid expected date to select the new president, Smith said the process this time has been made simpler by the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. Additionally, the community will be made aware of the happenings with the constituency groups, most likely taking place after Thanksgiving.

“I was part of the presidential search five years ago, and the state system has refined it to be much better now,” Smith said. “The next phase will be after Thanksgiving; we’ll have some candidates on campus.”

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