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NSCC presidential search group ready to start reviewing applicants

Rick Wagner • Aug 20, 2018 at 12:11 PM

BLOUNTVILLE — The Presidential Search Advisory Committee for Northeast State Community College Friday got access to resumes and cover letters from more than 50 applicants following public input and orientation sessions Thursday.

However, don’t except to hear any names go public until October, and then only finalists.

WHAT WAS DISCUSSED IN ORIENTATION?

During orientation, search consultant Betty Asher of Greenwood/Asher & Associates repeatedly emphasized to the committee, which has 17 members, the importance of confidentiality and that only the names of up to three finalists would become public. 

Under Tennessee law, changed since Janice Gilliam was appointed NSCC president in 2009 when all applicants were publicly identified, Asher told the committee members that divulging names would be illegal, as board Chairman and Tennessee Board of Regents member Tom  Griscom said at the public input session in response to a question from a faculty member.

Gilliam retired in mid-2017 following a vote of no confidence by the Faculty Senate. James King of  the TBR became interim president and will remain so until the new president takes office.

If board members are asked or given information about a specific potential candidate, Asher said they can bring that information to the board and the search firm but should neither confirm nor deny that person has applied. Also, Asher urged search committee members to view the information on all applicants, which TBR Chancellor Tydings predicted would grow to more than 60 before the next search committee meeting Aug. 29. Candidates will be classified in three ways: A, the top contender; B, ones that could be given consideration; and C, those that do not meet the criteria.

The committee had the option to get only an alphabetical list, but Kingsport Chamber of Commerce CEO Miles Burdine and former Kingsport Mayor Dennis Phillips said the A, B, C system would be good.

WHY CONFIDENTIALITY? 

Asher said the confidentiality rule makes it easier for high-quality candidates to come forward, as they know their interest in the job will not be revealed unless they are finalists. She said it also is important, perhaps more important, for any internal candidates. Some faculty who attended the public input session indicated they thought internal candidates were in the mix of applicants and should be given due consideration.

The first cut will reduce the list of candidates to around 10, Griscom, Asher and Tydings said, with as few as eight acceptable and 12 OK. Ashe said no fewer than eight are need because invariably some will drop out for personal or professional reasons. 

Asher said interviews of the eight to 12 semifinalists would take place over two days, with hours as long as 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce.  After that, the committee will pare the list to no more than three, although as a practical matter Tydings said it would be either two or three from which she will choose a candidate. Interviewing only one publicly probably doesn’t make much sense.

During the input session, a questioner asked what would happen if it became apparent none of the finalists were a good fit for the campus. Griscom responded that the search process is designed for success and that he is confident quality and suitable candidates will be finalists. At some point, surveys of faculty and staff will be undertaken to gather about the finalists, Griscom said. 

“I make that decision based on all the feedback I get,” Tydings said. “It’s a group effort.”

***

Here is a tentative, basic timeline of the selection process:

July 2018: Advertise and recruit applicants

Aug. 16, 2018: Public forum, orientation and start-up meeting (open to public)

Aug. 29, 2018: Search Advisory Committee prospect review meeting (closed to public)

Sept. 13-14, 2018: Round One interviews of leading candidates (closed to public)

Oct. 9, 2018: Search Advisory Committee reference feedback meeting (closed to public)

Oct. 17-19, 2018: Round Two interviews of up to three finalists (open to the public)

Jan. 1, 2019: President in place

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