Education

The University of Kentucky will consider only internal candidates for provost position

The next University of Kentucky provost will be a familiar face.

President Eli Capilouto has announced that he will look no further than UK's campus to find the next chief academic officer to replace former Provost Christine Riordan. She was chosen in 2013 after a lengthy national search, coming to Lexington from the University of Denver, where she was the business dean.

Riordan announced last month that she was leaving to become the president of Adelphi University in New York on July 1. Until that time, she will serve as an executive adviser for special projects at UK, and continue to make her annual salary of $420,000.

In a campuswide email on Dec. 19, Capilouto said a variety of important initiatives — a new budget model, a five-year strategic plan, new campus infrastructure and improving retention and graduation rates — need immediate leadership.

"Given the list of initiatives we need to accomplish to continue our progress as a university, a strong majority of my conversations have made clear to me the need to undertake a deliberate, but rapid process for selecting a permanent provost," Capilouto wrote. "This is the better choice for our campus at this moment — in comparison to selecting an interim provost to be followed by a lengthy national search. There is a palpable sense that we need 'thoughtful urgency' to select our next chief academic officer."

Spokesman Jay Blanton said the university has had previous internal candidates for the job.

"The talent is here and the strength is here to fill the position," he said. "We need to move quickly as an institution, and that position is at the nexus of all of those issues."

On Tuesday, Capilouto announced an eight-member search committee chaired by Nancy Cox, dean of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, and Robert Mock, vice president of student affairs.

The other members are Mike Adams, chairman of the staff senate; Kim Anderson, engineering professor; Andrew Hippisley, chairman of the senate council; Mariel Jackson, student government vice president; professor Nancy Schoenberg of the College of Medicine; and professor Genia Toma of the Martin School of Public Policy and Administration.

Blanton said none of the committee members would be candidates for the provost job.

The committee will take nominations via email at provostsearch@uky.edu between now and 5 p.m. Jan. 12. Nominees will be asked to submit applications by Jan. 16.

One to three finalists will be presented to the campus in open forums, a process similar to when Riordan was hired.

Tim Tracy, dean of the College of Pharmacy, was interim provost before Riordan was hired. He said the complexities of a school such as UK — a public, land grant research university with 16 colleges, including a medical school — made the provost's job particularly challenging.

"It's a big job at any university like ours, whether you come from inside or outside," he said.

Tracy declined to comment on whether he was interested in the job.

Robert Grossman, a faculty member of the UK Board of Trustees, said he thought Capilouto weighed the pros and cons of an internal versus external search. "A national search would take a very long time, and we've got a lot of balls in the air right now," he said. "His judgment was that the cons to an internal search were outweighed by the pros. He didn't make the decision rashly."

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