The chairman of the University of Nebraska presidential search committee expressed confidence Monday that the process is going well.
“We’re making great progress,” said NU Regent Jim Pillen of Columbus. “We’ve got a great committee.”
All 23 members of the committee — largely made up of business and university leaders — attended the roughly two-hour meeting at the University of Nebraska at Omaha Thompson Alumni Center.
The committee almost immediately went into closed session, citing sensitive personnel matters. The regents, the committee and many others contend that publicly naming applicants and nominees would water down the pool. They argue that many applicants don’t want their boards of directors to know that they’re being considered for another job.
Three years ago, the Nebraska Legislature agreed to change state law so that the regents needed to publicly name only one finalist in such a search. In the past, they typically named four.
Former NU President Hank Bounds departed in August, saying he wanted to spend more time with his family.
“We feel great about the timing, and we feel great about the pool of candidates,” Pillen said after the meeting. He declined to say how many applicants and nominees are in the pool. He said the search will remain open to other applicants and nominees until the work concludes.
Last week, members of the search committee interviewed several candidates in confidential meetings in Omaha, The World-Herald learned. The committee aims to work in considerable secrecy and has appointed Pillen as its sole, or primary, spokesman.
The Board of Regents has hired a consulting firm, AGB Search, to help with the hunt for a new president. Attending the meeting Monday were AGB’s Roderick McDavis, former president of Ohio University, and Sally Mason, former president of the University of Iowa.
Although McDavis said over the summer that the search should conclude before the end of the year, Pillen declined to say that Monday.
“It’s premature to speculate,” he said.