Work in progress: Interviewing the final three candidates

Allison DeBusk/Guilfordian

At last, the names have been released.

Not only that, but two have already visited campus.

On Monday, March 31, after a long and arduous process, the College announced the names of its final three presidential candidates.

“They understood what we were looking for,” said Associate Professor of Music Kami Rowan, member of the presidential search committee. “They bring experience and passion.”

Already, students have a lot of questions for the candidates.

“I would like to know what they see as the biggest challenges facing Guilford and how they would address those problems,” said junior Ben Strozier.

The first candidate to visit was Jane Fernandes, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. Fernandes, a huge advocate for racial justice, worked at Gallaudet University as vice president with hopes of promoting literacy in American Sign Language.

“The more I read about Guilford, the more strongly I believe that if I were the president, the Guilford community and I would stand together and support each other,” said Fernandes in an interview with The Guilfordian. “I feel very welcome here.”

As for Guilford’s future, Fernandes already has some ideas.

“It would be important for Guilford to maintain its emphasis on diversity,” said Fernandes. “(Additionally), two priorities seem to be enrollment and fund-raising, whether that’s through grants or donors or other sources.”

The second candidate, Michele Perkins, serves as president of New England College and chair to New Hampshire College University Council. Perkins has worked at several schools in admissions and enrollment management. In the past, she has focused on recruiting and retaining students.

According to The Huffington Post, Perkins was one of the staff members at New England College to give up $10,000 of her salary in 2012 to fill the budget gap.

Finally, Carolyn Stefanco is among the first generation of professors with a background in women’s history and women’s studies. Before serving her current position as Vice President of Agnes Scott College, Stefanco taught at Oklahoma State University, Wheaton College and California Polytechnic State University, where she was women’s studies director.

In November 2013, Stefanco ran for Baker College president, citing community and character building as reasons she was so excited about the school.

“She’s been a professor, a department chair, a dean, a higher education administrator and an ex officio trustee, so (she is) a very well-rounded individual,” said Baker Presidential Search Committee Chair Hoot Gibson.

So far, students seem excited about the candidates.

“I was very surprised by the fact that they were all women,” said first-year Mara Stern.  “It really shows how forward-thinking and innovative Guilford is.”

The search committee, however, insists that their gender was not the reason the finalists were selected.

“The committee as a group thought that these would be the best qualified candidates,” said trustee and Presidential Search Committee Chair Carole Bruce. “Their gender is their gender.”

Rowan has no doubt that any of these candidates would be a good fit for Guilford.

“They’re really excited about who they are and what we do,” said Rowan. “They want to be a part of it.”

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