USCA names chancellor finalists
USC Aiken has announced that four finalists have been selected to succeed retiring Chancellor Dr. Tom Hallman.The finalists are:* Dr. David Cordle, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of North Carolina Wilmington* Dr. Nancy Jannik, interim provost and vice president of academic affairs, Winona State University in Winona, Minn.* Dr. Sandra Jordan, provost and vice president of academic affairs, Georgia College & State University in Milledgeville, Ga.* Dr. Vernon Miles, provost and vice president for academic affairs, Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Ark.Each candidate will be scheduled to visit the university in mid- to late April, said professor Dr. Ed Callen, who heads the search committee."They will have the opportunity to meet with USC Aiken students, faculty, staff and administration, as well as community leaders, legislators and partnership groups," said Callen, the psychology department chairman.At the end of that process, the search committee will select three of the finalists and submit their names to University of South Carolina President Dr. Harris Pastides. He will make the final decision.Callen and others on the search committee agree that USCA is going through a unique transition. Executive Vice Chancellor Dr. Suzanne Ozment is also leaving in June to take a top administrative position at an Alabama college.The university has had just three chancellors as it celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Retired Chancellor Dr. Robert Alexander and Hallman arrived at USCA in 1983, and Hallman succeeded Alexander in 2001."There's no doubt we are experiencing a change in senior administration, more than we've ever had at one time," said Callen. "Certainly change can cause some apprehension in some people. From the very beginning, we felt the weight of that concern and the level of importance of this task. Hopefully, everyone will see the results of the committee's hard work in a positive way as the candidates make their way to campus."The finalists are an outstanding group, and Pastides will face a difficult task in selecting one of them, said Tim Simmons, chairman of the Aiken County Commission for Higher Education and a search committee member."It's very important we get the right person, someone who has a lot of energy and is top-notch on the academic side," Simmons said. "USCA is a wonderful asset, and we need a chancellor who recognizes that. Change always brings a little anxiety, but this also creates an opportunity to bring in new ideas and different talent and to maintain USCA as a first-class liberal arts university."All of the finalists are fully qualified and are ready to serve as a chancellor, said committee member Dr. Gary Senn, director of the Ruth Patrick Science Education Center. At least one candidate during the search process indicated that the chancellor's job is a "plum position," Senn said."The people coming in recognize that," he said. "This campus has a history of very positive things, and we want to build on that. The next person who comes in will have to have a great appreciation of how far the university has come and will be the kind of leader to move us forward."All of the finalists will give an open presentation during their visits, Callen said. Those in attendance will get a chance to talk with the candidates or at least greet them."We want to make this process as inclusive as possible to the community," Callen said.Senior writer Rob Novit is the Aiken Standard's education reporter and has been with the newspaper since September 2001. He is a native of Walterboro and majored in journalism at the University of Georgia.