The search for Western Illinois University’s 12th President is underway and six finalists have been selected.
In an interview with Student Member to the Board of Trustees Justin Brown, he explained the process and gave some insight into the candidates and what he is personally looking for. Brown said, “The process looks a bit different this time than it has during any other search process. The search committee has met exclusively virtually and candidates have not been able to come to campus. While it is less fun and exciting, conducting a search in this manner does allow a wider variety of people to meet and ask the candidates questions, even if it is via Zoom.” When asked what he is looking for in a candidate, Brown said, “We need a leader, not just a president. Someone who will really put in the work and get to know the real issues going on. This person should have experience and a wide array of communication skills and should not be afraid to go out and learn about the campus and the community and someone who is able to engage with all students, alumni and prospective students.”
The six finalists are Martin Abraham, Bahman Ghorashi, Cady Short-Thompson, Steve Michael, Michael Shonrock and Guiyou Huang. The candidates come from various institutions across the country, with the exception of Martin Abraham who is an internal candidate in the search. Brown said, “From my understanding, it was very difficult to narrow it down to these six candidates. They range from former presidents to current presidents to deans to provosts and everything in between. There is a wide variety of qualities among this candidate pool. We are thankful to our search firm which helped reach out to these candidates so that they could apply. Each candidate has been assigned a day where they will follow an interview itinerary consisting of meetings with Administrators, Academic Directors, Department Chairs, Student Government Association, students from both the Macomb and Quad Cities campuses as well as the presidential search committee.
In the open forum Zoom session with candidate Steve Michael, Student Government Association President Daria Levchenko asked, “How would you go about making sure that you’re hearing students’ voices and concerns and help with those things to the best of your ability?” to which Michael said, “I advocate being a student leader very strongly, you can make an impact for yourself and other students. Many skills I cultivated were mastered when I was a student leader. When I came to my university, I was introduced to various student leaders of organizations. No one was the president of everything, so I wanted to organize a student government association. I wanted to make a statement. I still advise student government and meet weekly with them regarding issues and concerns. I am very excited to walk with students as one of them.”
There are two more Zoom open forum sessions this week with Shonrock on Monday and Huang on Tuesday, these are each at 4:30 p.m. and are open to all students and community members. There will be opportunities for questions. Anyone who wants to participate in these sessions must register at https://form.jotform.com/202864170962054. The Board of Trustees plans to name the 12th President of Western Illinois University by Jan. 1, 2021