Search for new chancellor could be silent process

A national search for a new Western Carolina University chancellor will start immediately following longtime leader John Bardo’s announcement this week he would leave the institution’s top post and join the faculty.

There will be a two-step process in winnowing candidates, according to Steve Warren, chairman of WCU’s Board of Trustees and an alumnus of the university. The board of trustees will form a search committee and hire a search firm. At least two names, probably three, will be submitted to Erskine Bowles, president of the University of North Carolina system. Bowles will nominate one, his top pick, for the Board of Governors to consider.

The search committee will include board of trustee members, WCU faculty, student representatives and alumni. The UNC code and state statute dictates the committee’s formation, and the amount of public participation in the selection process, said Joni Worthington, vice president for communications for the UNC system.

Community representatives can be included on the committee, she said, and the names of the finalists can be made public — but that is not required. The law doesn’t prohibit open meetings between the candidates and the public — but that does not typically take place in North Carolina, either.

Much, in other words, depends on the level of openness Bowles and the WCU Board of Trustees decide is appropriate.

If all goes smoothly, a new chancellor will be selected to head the university in five or six months, Warren said.

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