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Watch now: Here's how many have applied to become the next president of Illinois State University

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The Illinois State University presidential search committee meets via Zoom on Tuesday to review information about applicants.

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The Illinois State University presidential search attracted 58 applicants. Interviews will take place April 21 and 22.

NORMAL — Fifty-eight people have applied to become the next president of Illinois State University, according to the firm assisting with the search.

Zach Smith, a managing partner with WittKieffer, the global executive search firm that is assisting ISU, told the 32-member search committee on Tuesday, “That’s about what you might expect for a search like this.”

The search committee, which includes the ISU board of trustees, met via the Zoom conferencing platform for about a half hour before entering into closed session.

Smith said, in addition in advertising the position, the firm reached out to about 2,500 people about the opportunity and received 69 nominations. The firm is being paid $133,000 plus expenses.

Unlike previous presidential searches, this one is taking place mostly behind closed doors and there will be no public announcement of the finalists and no public forums on campus.

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Smith said, “Some of the candidates would have opted not to apply” without the confidential process.

During the public comment segment at the start of the meeting doctoral student Trevor Rickerd criticized what he described as an undemocratic “secretive, top-down, authoritarian approach.”

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Rickerd is a member of the bargaining team for the Graduate Workers Union, which is in the midst of contract talks and holding a strike authorization vote this week.

After narrowing the field of candidates to about 10 or 12, the next step will be interviews on April 21 and 22 with the search committee, said Smith. The field is then expected to be trimmed to about four or five finalists.

The university hopes to have someone chosen before current President Larry Dietz retires at the end of June.

Search committee member Rick Valentin, an associate professor of arts technology, asked Smith about the vetting process used by the search firm to check out candidates, pointing to a recent controversy at Oregon State University.

F. King Alexander resigned after less than a year as OSU president following a report on the mishandling of sexual misconduct allegations at Louisiana State University while Alexander was president there. WittKieffer was part of that search.

Smith said the firm does in-depth phone screening and interviews; contacts on-list and off-list representatives; performs a media check and has candidates fill out questionnaires related to issues such as harassment.

“If somebody doesn’t share information with us, that’s something we can’t control,” said Smith.

In answer to a question from another search committee member, Leanna Bordner, deputy director of athletics, Smith said the search firm “absolutely” would share with the search committee any “red flags” that come up during the vetting process.


Replay: Pantagraph candidate debates for Bloomington, Normal council, mayor

Replay: Pantagraph candidate debates for Bloomington, Normal council, mayor

Watch a replay of candidate debates hosted by Pantagraph Media. 

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Candidates for Normal Town Council debate Thursday in a forum hosted by The Pantagraph and moderated by Central Illinois Editor Chris Coates.

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Central Illinois Editor Chris Coates hosts a debate with candidates for Bloomington mayor.

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Normal mayor candidates Chris Koos and Marc Tiritilli take part in a debate hosted by Pantagraph Media.

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The Pantagraph hosts a debate between candidates running for Bloomington City Council on March 17.

Contact Lenore Sobota at (309) 820-3240. Follow her on Twitter: @Pg_Sobota

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