Who will be our new leader?

Heather Mangan

Heather Mangan

The pool of SDSU presidential candidates continues to narrow as Peggy Gordon Miller enters her last semester as university president.

The presidential search committee is currently conducting background checks on a selected group of candidates, and will soon narrow the group further to candidates that will be interviewed by the South Dakota Board of Regents.

“We really feel that this is one of the strongest pool(s) of candidates,” said Regent Terry Baloun, chairman of the search committee. “It is going to be very, very difficult to get this pool down to a finalist (but) when you get that strong of a pool that makes your job very easy to get the best president for the campus.”

After the interviews, a group will be selected to visit SDSU and meet with different constituency groups. Mary Kay Helling, associate vice president for academic affairs, said the on-campus interviews are scheduled for Sept. 14 and 15 and students will have the opportunity to meet with the candidates.

The final decision will be announced at the October Board of Regents meeting, said Students’ Association President Alex Halbach.

“We are on track to make these referrals on time,” he said. “The committee is taking the care and the time a search like this deserves.”

More than 60 people from all over the country and with different backgrounds have applied to become the next SDSU president. However, the number of candidates still in the running isn’t being released.

Halbach said many of the search’s details aren’t being disclosed to protect candidates who prefer their applications remain private.

Although the committee is well into the search process, applications are still being accepted.

“If someone would step up and blow us out of the water, we would consider them,” Halbach said. “We will be considering candidates until we hire one.”

As a student representative for the committee, Halbach said it’s one of his primary goals to make sure SDSU’s new leader fits students’ idea of a president.

“We are more or less looking for someone we’ve never had here before,” he said.

He said it’s important to choose a person that will continue the visions of growth that Miller started.

“It’s a great time to be at SDSU and I think that has helped with not only the caliber of candidates, but the quantity,” Halbach said.

Miller’s last day as SDSU president is Dec. 31 and the new president will step into office the next day.

When Miller announced her retirement in December, a search committee was created in March to find her replacement.

The committee is comprised of Regents members, a member of the Brookings community, an alumni representative, students, a member of the SDSU administration, an SDSU Foundation representative, faculty members, a non-faculty employee, a member of career services, a representative from another state university and a higher education consultant.

Halbach said the committee has met several times since it started its work, and will have three more meetings before the final announcement is made.