Search for next UMass chancellor down to four finalists

By Collegian News Staff

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It could be a geographer who currently serves as a vice chancellor for a series of state-run universities in Oregon.

It could be a psychologist who presently oversees academic affairs at the University of Albany in New York. It could be an economist who currently serves as the head of the Hispanic College Fund.

Or it could be a physicist who serves as a provost at the University of Kentucky.

A committee charged with searching for the University of Massachusetts’ next chancellor yesterday announced that it had winnowed a pool that once contained 185 candidates down to a group of four finalists who will vie to take over the school’s top administrative post beginning this summer.

The finalists – who will each visit the school next week – include Sona Andrews, the current vice chancellor for academic strategies in the Oregon University System who’s also a geographer by training; Susan Phillips, who is currently the provost and vice president for academic affairs at the University of Albany, in addition to being a scholar in vocational psychology; Carlos Santiago, an economist who currently serves as the CEO of the Hispanic College Fund; and Kumble Subbaswamy, a physicist who’s presently the provost at the University of Kentucky.

The 18-member search committee, which was initially formed last September, selected the finalists with the help of the executive search firm Witt/Kieffer. The committee interviewed 15 different individuals for the post and selected the four finalists at yesterday’s meeting, which was held in Boston, according to a statement issued by the committee.

The finalist chosen to fill the position will succeed current Chancellor Robert Holub, who will leave the University by July 31 after serving as the head of the school for four years. His departure, which was announced last summer, followed reports that a committee charged with evaluating his performance had given him a negative review.

“We have put forward the names of four very impressive scholars and leaders who we are confident can build on the already excellent reputation of one of the nation’s preeminent public research institutions,” Phil Johnston, the chairman of the committee, said of the group of finalists in a statement. “We were heartened by the breadth and depth of the candidate field, but we believe the four candidates we are advancing have the qualities, the experience, and the skills needed to move our great Amherst campus forward.”

The University’s 22-member Board of Trustees will make the ultimate decision on which candidate is chosen after receiving a recommendation from UMass President Robert Caret.

“Our next Chancellor of UMass Amherst can help us take our flagship campus to new heights, building on the well-established excellence of our faculty and students,” said Caret in an email to the campus community yesterday. “The field of finalists is distinguished by a wide breath of academic experience. Choosing among these candidates will be a very difficult task.”

Each of the finalists will hold a number of meetings with various campus and community constituencies next week.

– Collegian News Staff