A University of Kentucky presidential search committee plans to start interviewing national search firms next Friday as the first step to identify potential successors for outgoing UK President Lee T. Todd Jr.
According to a tentative time line handed out by the search committee at its first meeting Friday, members hope to hire a search firm by Dec. 1, start advertising for presidential candidates in January, select finalists in April and be ready to offer the UK presidency to someone by about May 1.
Search committee chairman Jim Stuckert said he would like to move more quickly than that if possible, but doesn't want to rush, either.
"We're bringing them (search firms) in, and we're going to see," Stuckert said. "If we're not happy with what we see, we'll have to pull in some more. I want to be certain nobody's pressured, nobody's pushed. We want to do the best for the University of Kentucky."
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The committee spent about an hour behind closed doors Friday reviewing proposals from some search firms. It's unclear how many firms might be interviewed next Friday. Stuckert said only that a "firm or firms" would be interviewed.
The panel also spent an hour Friday reviewing confidentiality provisions and other rules it will follow in seeking presidential candidates. Another hour was spent listening to UK deans outline their ideas for what kind of person the university should seek as its next president.
M. Scott Smith, dean of the college of agriculture, predicted that the next president will face greater internal leadership challenges than Todd has had to deal with and may be "required to be more of a CEO."
UK Law School Dean David Brennan suggested the university needs someone who would bring a focus on resources, while providing perspective and academic leadership. A key task for the next president will be persuading Kentucky's best and brightest students to stay in Kentucky and attend UK rather than leaving for Yale, Harvard or Columbia, Brennan said.
The future of UK's drive to become a top 20 research institution also came up for discussion. Some suggested that while the goal might not be achievable by 2020, UK should not lose its goals and should push the concept that Kentucky can be as good as any state.
Billy Joe Miles, interim chair of the UK Board of Trustees and a search committee member, urged each dean to provide three names as possible candidates for president.
According to Stuckert, at least six land grant universities across the nation are searching for new presidents now, which will put added pressure on UK in its search.