Presidential search narrowed to 4 candidates, Provost Michael Gealt appointed interim president

Four finalists remain in the search for the 15th president of Central Michigan University, according to board of trustees chair William Weideman.

Trustees met July 30 in a special meeting to appoint Provost Michael Gealt as interim president for what the board stressed was a “limited time.” President George Ross announced in January that he would be stepping down from his position effective July 31.

Board vice chair Tricia Keith led the search committee and reiterated Monday the importance of finding the right candidate as opposed to meeting the search committee's initial timeline. On Feb. 27, the university announced it hired Witt/Kieffer, is an Illinois-based executive search firm that specializes in finding leaders for health care, academics, life science and nonprofit organizations, to be involved in the search for the next president. Weideman later said the search is moving forward and that faculty and staff will receive word on the board’s decision soon.

“We are certainly on track to name a president in August ,” Weideman said.

All that is left to do, Weideman said, is for the board to decide on its finalist. Trustees interviewed four candidates the first week of July. A fifth person withdrew from consideration after accepting another job. 

In June, the Presidential Search Advisory Committee put forward five, unranked candidates to trustees. That list was narrowed from 11 vetted applicants which was culled from a larger group of 70. Weideman told members of the media that the initial group was “diverse” in gender, experience and other areas but declined to discuss the details of the remaining four candidates.

As the search comes closer to a conclusion Weideman said trustees’ considerations about the remaining candidates have been focused on their demonstrated leadership, focus on student success and vision for the university.  

In a public comment made at the beginning of the board meeting Monday, faculty member of the sociology, anthropology and social work department, Cathy Willermet expressed her disappointment about the way the search was being conducted. 

"I know I speak for many of my colleagues when I ask to know something about the pool of short-listed, top candidates," Willermet said to the board. "While I understand your desire for confidentiality in this process, it is not unreasonable to have released, periodically, some information about the pool."