Community voices opinion on future president

Tech hosted an open forum Feb. 17 for the Cookeville community to speak about what they want in a new president and to ask the Greenwood/Asher & Associates Inc. search firm about the process.

“We do not worry about numbers, we worry about quality of candidates,” Betty Asher, Greenwood/Asher & Associates Inc. partner, said.

Currently, 12 candidates have applied for the president position through the search firm.

Public Opinion:

Asher encouraged the audience to speak about what attributes are wanted and needed in a president in order to make the firm and the Search Advisory Committee aware of what the public wants.

“What do you want your new president to do in the next three to five years to be considered successful?” Asher said.

“I am very proud that President Bell has instituted the STEM center,” Ward Norris, Cookeville resident, said. “He has made a substantial place in the world of academia throughout the United States, and I would like to see someone that innovated.”

Phil Walbrum, a 1960s Tech engineering alumnus, said, “I would like to know if that is going to be a criteria of the new president, to try to elevate engineering back to the flag pole of this school.”

Bailey Darrow, Cookeville resident, said, “One thing I see a lot in the community as a whole, is the effects the university has on our students in the public school system,”

“There are a lot of good programs that come to our school systems that originate from Tech.

“That is an important part that makes a community great, and I hope that will be a part of what the president wants as well.”

Advisory committee meets:

Committee member, Corinne Darvennes said, “This is not just a university, but a technological university, and I would like our next president to see that and understand what it means.”

The committee will begin processing all candidates in late March, during a two-day, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. meeting, where the committee will narrow down the candidates and decide on who they want to bring in for the first round of interviews.

The search firm does not do any prescreening before the list of candidates is handed given to the committee.

The search firm has chosen the Nashville Marriot Airport Hotel to host the first round of interviews. It is customary to host the interviews where they can bring in the candidates and have them fly out close to the interview location.

Committee member Steve Rains offered his business in town, Progressive Savings Bank, to host the first round of interviews.

“My preference is do the interviews here,” Joe Albrecht, committee member, said. “It would not be a real inconvenience for the candidates to do the interviews here.”

After the committee narrows down the list to 3 to 5 candidates from the first round of interviews, the second interviews are conducted on campus.

Asher encourages the candidates to bring his or her spouses for the campus interview because they are a big factor in determining if the candidate will want to be Tech’s president.

The candidates will have an interview on campus and are taken to talk to people at Tech and in the community.

Advice from the Chancellor:

Chancellor John Morgan advised the committee to “not try to find another Bob Bell; that is not possible.”

“Find someone that can take this institution from a good place to a great place,” Morgan said.

The committee is expected to choose a president by the end of April.