58 people apply to become 20th President of Illinois State University

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NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD) – Tuesday, Illinois State University officials went through the next step of selecting their 20th President.

Approximately 2,500 people were contacted about becoming the next president of Illinois State University and 69 individuals were also nominated, according to a representative with WittKieffer, a global search firm assisting ISU with selecting their next president.

“We also advertised quite broadly in different outlets,” said Zach Smith, WittKieffer Managing Partner.

As of Tuesday, Smith said 58 individuals had already applied for the position.

“It does obviously vary from presidential search to presidential search, but that’s a pretty typical number,” he said.

During a search committee meeting, Trevor Rickerd, an ISU graduate student, spoke out against the way he felt the hunt for a new president had been handled so far.

“Give people a chance to not only make clear what they want in a president but also the power of agency in the process, instead of what is going on now with this secretive, top-down, authoritarian approach,” Rickerd said.

WittKieffer was also questioned about his company’s vetting process.

This question arose after Oregon State University’s former president, F. King Alexander, resigned just months after taking the position. His resignation came in the wake of a sexual misconduct scandal at Louisiana State University. Alexander was the president at LSU from 2013-2019. WittKieffer helped with the presidential search at OSU.

Smith addressed those concerns by explaining the search firm does extensive vetting which includes in-depth phone screening, interviews, and on-list and off-list references.

“We follow all of our industry standards as it relates to comprehensive due diligence. One thing that we can’t do is if someone doesn’t share information with us, that’s something that we can’t control,” Smith said.

When asked about addressing “red flags” as ISU seeks a new leader, Smith says those will be discussed with the 32-person search committee.

“We will absolutely talk through some of those questions that maybe he had about a candidate,” he said.

Candidates for the position will be interviewed towards the end of April.

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