The search is on

Story by Eric Christenson, Editor in Chief

UW System President Kevin Reilly charged a search committee Friday, consisting of faculty members, academic staff, student representatives, as well as members of the Eau Claire community, to find UW-Eau Claire a new chancellor.

Rama Yelkur, a Marketing professor and chair of the search committee, said the committee’s ultimate task is choosing five finalists for the position. Those five will then visit the university to interview with a special regents committee.

After that, the finalists interview in Madison and the special regents committee will name the chancellor. They then recommend their name to the board of regents and the board of regents approves it.

But before all that, Yelkur said the committee has to start from scratch to create a position description.

“The environment has changed since 2005 when we created the position description for Brian Levin-Stankevich,” she said.  “We also need to look to the future and how UW-Eau Claire can remain to be a competitive premiere public regional institution.

“What we want to do is gather input from various perspectives on campus, off campus and the community as well.”

The student reps — current Student Body President Corydon Fish and former Student Body President Phil Rynish — are the only two students on the committee and are tasked with representing 10,000 students.

“What I’m really looking for is a chancellor that has a lot of experience a.) running administration in general, but b.) in a previous university system that has strong governance, especially with students,” Fish said this summer.  “The candidate needs to have experience working with faculty and students, or they’ll be in over their head.”

Rynish said he’s eager to serve on the committee, but said the best way for students to get involved is to go to one of three open forums the committee will hold, two of which are on campus and one of which is off campus.

For Rynish, an exemplary candidate would also fit in well with the ideals of Eau Claire’s shared governance between University Senate and Student Senate.

“Students have a lot of influence on their own money they spend to go here and how it’s spent,” Rynish said.  “I want someone that’s going to honor that process a lot.”

Students, community members, staff and faculty are all represented on the search committee, which Yelkur said comes with responsibility.

“Everybody on the search committee has a responsibility to go back to their constituents and gather input,” she said.  “Student reps I hope will keep going back and keep everybody informed as well as gather input when there’s need for input from the campus community.”

On March 27, Eau Claire’s former chancellor Brian Levin-Stankevich announced he was accepting a position as President of Westminster College, a private liberal arts college in Utah.

Shortly after Levin-Stankevich made his announcement, Reilly released a statement wishing the former chancellor well, saying, “I know well Brian’s unwavering commitment to the high quality liberal arts-based education that UW-Eau Claire provides. His fellow Chancellors and I will miss him.”

In Levin-Stankevich’s own statement, he said that Eau Claire had welcomed his family wholly and that it was bittersweet to leave.

“I am excited by the new possibilities and opportunities this appointment presents, there is much that I will certainly miss,” his statement said.  “We have worked very hard over the past few years, accomplishing much with even more yet to do.”
First on the list of “more yet to do” is find a new chancellor.

On April 18, a UW System news release announced the appointment of Eau Claire’s interim chancellor, Gilles Bousquet, which included another quote from Reilly saying, “At a time when people want Wisconsin’s public universities to help boost economic growth, Gilles’ work on system-wide international economic development strategies shows that he understands the UW’s role as an economic engine for the state.”

Fish said communication and involvement are some of Bousquet’s strong points.

“Not only is he very proactive about getting students and interacting with students … but he’ll be one of the most interactive chancellors we’ve ever had as far as the student body is concerned,” Fish said.

According to an Eau Claire press release, Bousquet’s duties started on July 16 and he will serve as interim chancellor until Summer 2013.  By then, the 21-person faculty/student search committee will have made their decision.

While the committee deliberates, Yelkur said the process should try to be open.

“I think that’s the whole idea,” she said.  “To be as inclusive as possible in this process, that’s the intention.”

Editor’s note: News Editor Chris Reinoos contributed reporting to this article.