‘President search’ narrowing to three to five candidates by January, says committee chair

Mason is in the first stage of a four part search to find a successor for President Alan Merten when he retires in June.. (Jake McLernon)

The Mason Presidential Search Committee, put in place to find a successor for retiring Mason president Alan Merten, has announced they will be sending the names of the final three-to-five candidates to the Board of Visitors between December and January.

According to Lovey Hammel, chairman of the search committee and member of the Board of Visitors, the committee has not begun reviewing candidates yet and the search process is currently in the first part of a four part search.

Rector Ernst Volgenau chose the members of the search committee which includes faculty, members of the Board of Visitors, community members and the student body president.

Since meeting in June, the search committee has announced its choice of Greenwood/Asher and Associates as the search firm to help them in the process of finding the next president.

“[Greenwood/Asher has a] lot of experience working all over nationally and in Virginia schools,” said Hammel.

The committee is in a period of recruiting, reviewing and evaluating candidates. This process is expected to last until December when it will begin ranking the top candidates to present to the Board of Visitors.

Finalists will then be sent to the Board of Visitors for their decision.

In addition to evaluating potential candidates, the search committee is in the outreach and profile development period, expected to be completed in September when the position profile is finalized.

Over the summer the committee began gathering information from members of the community and university in an effort to form the best profile of the position to make available to applicants and the public.

Hammel said the search has just been opened on a national scale and the university is beginning to advertise for the position in local and national publications.

The committee has also consulted with other Virginia universities that have recently hired new presidents to help find the best practices in focusing their search.

Merten has held the executive position at the university since 1996 and will officially retire on June 30, 2012.

“Everyone feels the university is on an upward trend,” said Hammel. “Merten has built a fabulous infrastructure.”

Hammel said the objective for the next president will be to keep the momentum strong and take Mason to the next level.

Thursday, the committee sent out a survey to staff, faculty and students asking them what they would like to see in their next university president.

The Mason Presidential Search Committee will have their next meeting on Sept. 27 from 2-4 p.m. at the junior ballroom located in the Mason Inn. While some of the meeting will be closed to the public, Hammel said “every meeting will have a public component.”

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