Out of four, which will lead?

Jeremy Fugleberg

Jeremy Fugleberg

It’s all over but the announcement. The next SDSU president could be announced any day, but possibly within the next several weeks, said the South Dakota Board of Regents last week.

The BOR and its search committee sponsored on-campus forums Sept. 14 and 15 with the final four candidates.

The new president will replace current President Peggy Miller, who will retire in December.

The four finalists, all white men, have a wide range of backgrounds and experiences.

David Chicoine, 59, an SDSU graduate and native of Elk Point, was the first candidate in student meetings on Sept. 14. With a cup of coffee in hand, he moved toward each question, almost personally answering each student.

Chicoine is the vice president of technology and economic development at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He said a focus on technology wouldn’t be satisfied by second place.

“If you’re going to teach using technology, you have to be onthe cutting edge,” he said.

While he mentioned the importance of new buildings and involved professors, he stressed the importance of students to the university.

“The president needs to send the message that we’re here because of the students,” he said. “The value is you. We have to give you the chance to sparkle.”

Colin Scanes, 59, is the vice president for research and economic development at Mississippi State University. But Scanes, originally from England, still has his British accent and a bit of reserve.

He spoke quietly of himself as he stood behind a low desk at the front of the Campanile Room of The Union. But as students asked questions, he stepped out and opened up, complimenting a student on a skydiving t-shirt.

He said his biggest asset was his ability to make good thingshappen.

“My history is to make a difference wherever I go,” he said.

But why SDSU?

“Because it’s a university poised to move to that next level,” hesaid.

Scanes said the key for him was to set high goals in all areas, including fundraising. He said he wants to “focus on how to make the pie bigger instead of how to divide it.”

But he said his biggest push would be in the area of economic development, and he touted his record in Mississippi as an example.

Norval Pohl, 64, the outgoing president of the University of North Texas, said he’s looking for something else – something not as big as the urban institution he’s led.

Pohl said he strongly believes in making the campus a “total environment” for students. He said he was instrumental in a new parking shuttle program for his university, and helped push for new buildings.

Students are no longer satisfied with “group showers at the end of the hallway,” he said.

Pohl said he strongly favors “applied research over theoretical” for Ph.D students, with graduate programs focusing on specific niches instead of on a general degree.

William Marcy, 62, is the provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Texas Tech University. Standing behind a lectern in a slightyrumpled suit, Marcy spoke of what attracted him to SDSU and where he wants the school to go.

“One of the things I like about South Dakota State University is the size and how it feels,” he said. But he said he thinks part of the problem for SDSU is that it’s not as big as it could be.

He said buildings are important, and while the Performing Arts Center on the SDSU campus is right on the mark, many of the buildings are dated.

And even as SDSU opens a new research park and gets more research funding, Marcy said there’s a sweet spot for the university to hit.

“I don’t think there’s enough research yet,” he said. “You can lose a lot of momentum.”

Additional reporting done by Erik Ebsen and Jen Jungwirth.

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