UPDATE: Jean Kim has been appointed to fill the post.
The vice chancellor of student affairs and campus life position at the University of Massachusetts is down to the final four candidates.
Current interim Vice Chancellor Jean Kim is vying for the permanent position. The other three candidates are Kevin E. Charles, assistant vice president for student and academic services at the University of New Hampshire, Margaret A. Jablonski, vice chancellor for student affairs at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Michael R. Laliberte, vice president for student affairs at Boise State University in Idaho.
Whoever wins the upcoming election will, as vice chancellor, oversee a variety of offices critical to student life including Housing Services, University Health Services, the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program and the Dean of Students Office, which also includes campus activities and the judicial program.
According to Tom Milligan, executive vice chancellor for university relations, the position is “the unit most responsible for building the best living and learning environment in partnership with academic affairs and the rest of campus.”
The post has not been permanently filled since Michael Gargano, Jr. left the University in Jan. 2008. There have since been two interim vice chancellors: Esther Terry, who served in the role for 17 months, and Kim, who began a one-year interim term last July.
Milligan is chair of the selection committee, which consists of 10 members from a variety of different offices on campus. The members are Byron Bullock, associate vice chancellor for student affairs and campus life, Jeff Cox, chair of the department of music and dance, Pamela Marsh Williams, assistant provost and dean of undergraduate advising and learning communities, Mari Castañeda, associate professor of communications and faculty adviser of Student Bridges, Emily Bloch, student trustee, Tiffany Yee, vice president of the Graduate Student Senate, Ken Toong, director of UMass’ Dining Services, Robert Feldman, dean of the college of social and behavioral sciences, and Susan Whitbourne, professor of psychology and the national scholarship adviser.
The committee began the selection process last semester. From the pool of candidates who applied, 11 were selected in the first cut, Milligan said.
These 11 candidates had telephone interviews with the search committee, who then selected four finalists. The finalists have been visiting the UMass campus as of last week and continuing into the upcoming week, for meetings with members of the faculty, students, administration and Chancellor Robert Holub.
Milligan said the committee was looking for a “diverse and broad pool,” adding that he was pleased with the finalists they came up with.
“We have three sitting vice chancellors and one ‘number two,’” said Milligan. “I think that speaks to the quality of this University and the importance of the job.”
The candidates are having formal meetings and interviews while visiting the campus in addition to “open sessions” created by the committee. These sessions allow candidates the opportunity to speak to students, faculty and community members on a more informal basis, Milligan said.
At these open sessions, candidate evaluation forms are distributed. Milligan said these feedback forms will be read and considered carefully by the search committee.
After all four finalists have visited the UMass campus, the committee will meet and begin preparing their recommendations for the chancellor.
“We’ll get the feedback and compile it, and then give the chancellor a list of strengths and weaknesses of each candidate,” Milligan said.
While it is ultimately Chancellor Holub’s decision as to which of the candidates will be hired, the search committee has attempted to make the application and interview process extremely thorough to aid the chancellor in his choice, Milligan said.
“For a position as important as this, you want to do that with as much information as possible,” he said.
Chris Shores can be reached at email@example.com.