The search for number sixteen

Denny Patterson

As of late, Millikin has been undergoing numerous changes within its administration. The institution’s fifteenth president, Dr. Harold Jeffcoat, stepped down from his position to retire at the beginning of this semester. Vice President of Enrollment Rich Dunsworth took over as interim.

Since Dunsworth, who has been here at Millikin for more than 20 years, will be leaving at the end of the academic school year, many faculty and students are curious about what will happen next.

“The ad-hoc committee from the board of trustees is currently in the process of conducting interviews for an interim,” Dunsworth said. “The chairman of the board hired a group to manage the process. At the conclusion of the interviews, they will decide whether or not to invite the candidate to visit campus. It’s my belief that we’ll have a potential candidate(s) in early April.”

The profile of an interim president is usually an individual who is currently retired or people who by nature want short term appointments. It is highly unlikely that the interim president will stay as a faculty or administration member once their time is up.

When it comes to searching for Millikin’s next full time president, the board of trustees will hold an executive meeting on April 5. At the meeting, they will discuss hiring a search firm and appointing the chair of the search committee. There will also be talks about how the process should go about recruiting and selecting the next president. The committee will be made up of faculty, staff and administration members. Dunsworth is not sure whether or not it is a good idea for students to be on the committee.

“I’m conflicted on that one,” he said. “I think students should have a role but I don’t know if it’s a good thing to have them on the search committee itself. The student voice is definitely important when the candidates come to campus.”

The search committee will look to see if the candidates have made progress over the summer, and Dunsworth hopes to have potential candidates here on campus late fall for a winter appointment. The new president will officially start in July 2014.

When Dunsworth held an open-campus forum on March 6, a question that was asked was, “Will the new interim president have the authority to change everything that is currently in process?”  Unfortunately to many, the answer is yes.

“We have to have a lot of faith and trust that some of these decisions will be upheld,” Dunsworth said. “We will hire an interim president that will fit the institution and will not make hasty decisions. My hope is that they will provide what we need and continue what presidents Zemeke, Jeffcoat or I started and continue to prepare for the next person in office.”

Dunsworth also stated at the open forum that Millikin is not the best at bringing people in and keeping them at an executive level. Many of those who attended the forum agreed.

“Let’s look at this in context,” he said. “We were all outsiders once. It’s not that we suck at bringing all outside people in, we struggle at an executive level – deans, vice presidents and president. I don’t know why it is we struggle so much. I’ve been told that for one, the things that cause stress is work ethic and pace. We are different from many other institutions. We’re faster, and we expect more. We have broader positions than some institutions. Some have additional vice presidents. One of the questions we’re pondering – how can we be more successful at an executive level? We’re successful at bringing in faculty but not as much with administrative areas.

More information will be provided within the upcoming weeks.