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Committee makes progress

The search for Guilford College’s next vice president for academic affairs and academic dean has entered the semifinal stage.

President Jane Fernandes announced the national hunt to fill the position in an email on Oct. 31, 2016. Since then, a 13-person search committee has reached out to the higher education community and accepted applications.

“In early January, the committee discussed the most promising candidates in some detail and selected several about whom we wanted to learn more,” wrote Betty Kane, professor of business and chair of the search committee, on the College website on Jan. 27. “During the past two weeks, teams of two committee members each made calls to references that these candidates provided.

“We met Thursday, Jan. 26 to share what we learned. Based on the application materials and the references, we have now selected our semifinalists, whom we have invited to Greensboro next month to interview with the committee. Each semifinalist will also meet with Jane.”

The academic dean search follows other calls for job candidates in recent years.

In June of 2013, a 16-person committee was created to find the next president of Guilford. Since then, there have been searches for positions like the vice president for student affairs and student dean, seven tenure track professors and the director of the Multicultural Education Department.

For the moment, the identities of the current crop of candidates remain confidential.

“Our candidates have important positions at their home institutions and only a few of them will be invited to become finalists,” wrote Kane.

While the process has lacked transparency so far, the committee members working to find the next academic dean come from and represent all walks of life at Guilford.

Ten members are College employees holding academic and administrative positions. Another is a trustee. The remaining two, junior Gerardo Marcos-Ocampo and CCE senior Jeffrey Ray, are students.

“It feels good in knowing that I am, in a way, representing the student voice and (am) there to do so,” said Marcos-Ocampo, traditional student body president. “I also enjoy that I get to participate and partake in making sure that my voice is heard and student concerns are being heard.”

In addition to finding a candidate suited to Guilford’s social and academic environment, Marcos-Ocampo has diversity on his mind.

“I’m trying to uphold what some of the demands were brought by students increasing the search and outreach for candidates of color,” said Marcos-Ocampo. “That’s what I’m personally looking for … a candidate of color who can come and interview.”

Currently, Beth Rushing is the interim vice president for academic affairs and academic dean.

“I’ve been here since July of 2015, and I was hired as the interim,” said Rushing. “At the time I was hired, it was uncertain whether the interim position would be for one or two years.”

Plenty of college business has occurred since Rushing was hired. Guilford has tackled big issues like its financial situation, administrative restructuring and campus moves.

Things, however, have settled down enough to find a permanent academic dean, a position that requires both collaboration and versatility.

“I rarely work just by myself,” said Rushing. “I participate in the decisions about hiring faculty, about promotion and tenure of faculty, academic policies, academic programs.”

From the Accessibility Resource Center to the Honors Program, the position has great impact on learning and teaching, and the academic dean will play a part in new undertakings over the next few years.

Guilford is fresh off a campus visit from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to evaluate and affirm its accreditation. The College’s new Quality Enhancement Plan, Speak UP, will attempt to bolster students’ presentation abilities. And plans are in the works to revise campus curriculum requirements.

By late February or early March, the search committee will publicly name three to four finalists for the job. Until then, the future direction of Guilford classrooms will remain academic.

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