Presidential search consultant makes first appearance in Wayne

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  • Charles Bunting made his first appearance on Wayne State campus Tuesday to discuss what people from the area would like to see in a new president and address preliminary concerns.

  • Stan Carpenter introduces Charles Bunting at a community meeting Tuesday morning at Gardner Hall.

  • Dr. Mark Leeper, and Jay Collier, Director of College Relations, listening in on the presentation by Charles Bunting, Presidential Search Consultant.

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Justise Brundage, Staff Writer

Faculty, staff, students and the general public gathered in Gardner Auditorium Tuesday morning to meet the men behind the Presidential search of Wayne State College.

There were two sessions, at 8:30 and 10 a.m., and the meetings started with Stan Carpenter, Nebraska State College System Chancellor, introducing himself and Charles Bunting, the lead consultant from Storbeck/Pimentel.

Many of the 15 advisory committee members attended the meetings and sat in the audience. Carpenter mentioned that many of those committee members had discussed qualities to look for when selecting a new president in a meeting held on Jan. 27. Details of that meeting have not been released.

Bunting led the meeting by asking all in attendance to answer the four following questions for him:

What are the distinctive aspects/dimensions of Wayne State College? In other words, why would someone want to come?

What are the key challenges and opportunities facing the College over the next five to ten years? That is to say, what is the future agenda as it relates to the new President’s responsibilities?

What is the role, and what should be the priorities, specifically for the new President with respect to that future agenda?

Given your responses to all of the above, what are the characteristics, skills, and experiences we should be seeking in the search for the new President?

Faculty and staff all agreed on one idea: the new president needs foremost to keep the students in mind.

“State Colleges are receiving less funding, so I’d like someone that has experience in that and come without raising student’s tuition,” an audience member remarked.

“We need a president that knows the importance of maintaining programs even if their numbers don’t reflect the importance of the campus,” another audience member said.

Many qualities involved wanting to have a president who will take the time to see faculty outside of meetings and his or her office.

“Curt [Frye] does a good job of going round to different offices, so we see him outside of his office and he knows many of us by name, which is nice,” an audience member said.

“I think for this next president to work, they need to be involved on campus and in the community. It’s not going to work if they live in Norfolk and don’t get involved in the town,” another attendee said.

Along with mending the relationship between the NSCS and faculty, one audience member said she wanted to move forward with making new connections.

“I’d like to see someone who can help us develop a better sense of campus community. We have some outstanding staff and faculty members that are doing wonderful things and it seems that we aren’t able to help each other with it, or we don’t know about it,” an audience member said. “So I want more campus community and better relations between the campus and the systems office.”

Faculty and staff also asked for a president who will want to stay for a long time and not just treat Wayne as a “stepping stone” to something bigger in their future.

“I think we need a president that can advocate for the college and for its employees, and represent us in the state’s contexts of politics and budget planning process. They should come in with those kinds of experiences,” Lin Brummels, Director of Counseling, said.

Those in attendance also discussed the qualities that should attract candidates to campus.

“What I think makes Wayne great as a community and a college is that there is no one that will tell you that you can’t do something,” an audience member said. “You’re able to get involved and try many different things as a member of the college and a member of the community.”

More than one attendee suggested they want a president who demonstrates pride in both community and campus.

“I think the president needs to know that we are distinct, and we have a distinct identity, even though we are part of the state college system. We take great pride in the programs we offer, that we are open and affordable to first generational students, and we have a wide range of programs that are largely unavailable at other institutions like ours,” Dr. Mark Leeper said.

“We take great pride in training these people to stay in the region as professionals and to work hard for others, whether it is in medical or communication or business or government.

“I think the next president needs to look down to us and help preserve and promote our programs and be academic and focused. We need someone that has a doctorate, someone who is academic in nature and understands the liberal arts and someone that will fight for our identity.”

The addition of a search firm—the first time the NSCS has hired one for a presidential search—has raised a lot of questions by the community.

One man asked Bunting about the search process and how he will affect the search.

“The essential key that we play as the search firm is reaching out. We will obviously take the ideas and qualities we get from the entire community and put out leads,” Bunting said. “But we will also use our own background and experience for perspective candidates.”

For the next two months, Bunting said, he and his firm will take the suggestions that they received from the Wayne community to seek out possible candidates.

The next step will allow the advisory committee to narrow down the candidates for a confidential interview, and then narrow it down more and invite them for a visit to campus.

At that point the community will meet the candidates and give feedback on who would be the best fit for Wayne State. That input will be forwarded to the Nebraska Board of Trustees.

The final decision will be made by Carpenter in late April to early May.

Bunting mentioned that he has already started the search process and has a few candidates in mind.

Those who were unable to make it to the meeting but would like to share comments or nominate someone for the position can contact Charles Bunting at [email protected] or by phone at (802) 985-4987.