West Virginia University at Parkersburg prepping to find a new president

PARKERSBURG — The search for the new president of West Virginia University at Parkersburg will begin in earnest as the Board of Governors approved the hiring of a search firm to lead that search.

On Wednesday, the board approved the hiring of RH Perry & Associates. The firm’s primary focus is to assist institutions of higher education in the identification and selection of their leadership.

“I would like to thank the board for putting their trust in us to assist you in the most important task you have going, to find a president that will be a great fit for where the institution is now and where the institution sees itself going in the next 5-10-15 years,” said Jesse M. Thompson, senior consultant.

WVU-P is looking for a new president following the departure of Fletcher Lamkin in November. Jane Milley has been serving as interim president for the college since Lamkin left.

The company has been in business for over 40 years and has conducted over 1,000 searches.

Thompson said their job is to “assist” the institution in doing the background work and bringing qualified applicants to the institution’s search committee.

“What are the challenges as you look out some 10 years and what are the opportunities you think this new president will be able to take advantage of to be able to move this institution to its next level of greatness,” he said.

Once they know that, they will look at the professional credentials needed by a candidate to best fill the job.

“We listen to everybody and then we are able to put together an executive search profile and that serves as the blueprint for the entire search,” Thompson said.

They would talk with potential applicants and work with the school’s marketing people on where to advertise for the position and come up with a “solid, highly qualified pool of candidates in terms of experience and in terms of what the candidate can bring to the institution,” he said.

Then they will begin the process of recruiting, sending out correspondence to people in the higher education community to see if they are interested in the position or know someone who might be interested in the position, Thompson said. They will also contact people who were involved in past searches, he said.

They conduct interviews with potential candidates and have a recording of the interviews available to the university’s search committee for review.

They work closely with the search committee to put together a qualified list of candidates as well as make sure the candidates are right for the position.

“You are looking at whether that person is a good fit for you, the candidates are looking at if you are a good fit for them,” Thompson said, adding they want to make the process as transparent as possible.

John M. Hutchinson, senior consultant, said they also look at what the candidate’s salary expectations are and if they are involved in any other searches.

“The one thing we don’t want to happen is for you to select a candidate and find out at the last minute that the salary structure is inadequate or they are involved in another search and they are going to continue with that one,” he said. “We try to keep on top of all of those things.”

The search committee would pick the best 3-5 candidates to bring on campus for interviews.

The company does background checks, reference checks and talks with other people who can give insight on the candidates. They do criminal checks, civil checks, check their driving records, credit records, and degree verification.

“All of that information is made available to the governing board,” Thompson said in addition to the interviews that were already conducted.