The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Search for Blocker’s replacement begins

Four months after Robert Blocker surprised SMU with his resignation, a search committee has begun work to find his replacement.

Cox School of Business Dean Al Niemi and the 15-member search committee met for the first time Aug. 15 with the search firm Baker-Parker to set goals and begin the process of finding the university’s chief educational officer.

“The person who gets this job is probably engaged right now in a job-we’ll probably have to nudge them out,” Niemi said.

Niemi added that it is very likely the candidates SMU wants will demand confidentiality.

“The choice is to either lose good people or give them confidentiality so they can continue their job back home,” he said.

Niemi detailed how searches he and friends have been involved in are affecting how the committee will proceed. Niemi was being looked at as a possible chancellor of the University of Tennessee. When his name was released, he said he was overwhelmed by the reaction at his home campus of the University of Georgia.

“I had so many people asking me why I didn’t like it in Athens and why I would leave,” Niemi said. He wound up staying at Georgia.

He also said he has friends who won’t get involved in searches in Florida where it’s required for state universities to conduct their search in the public eye.

Niemi said public meetings where the top contenders could meet with students and faculty have “some benefits, but [I see] how it could crowd out some candidates.”

“It is possible that there could be student and faculty sessions where there would be confidentiality agreements,” Niemi said.

The search committee listed what qualities they were looking for in a candidate including:

– great credibility with faculty

– an “academic superstar”

– communicator

– leadership skills

– appreciation for the diversity of schools at SMU

“We don’t want someone who would restructure [the way the schools are set up] to something they were at previously,” Niemi said. “They need to have an appreciation for something new.”

This is the first time SMU is working with the Atlanta-based Baker-Parker search firm. The firm has conducted 40 provost searches over the past decade. SMU used firm Korn/Ferry for the most recent provost search.

“The person who gets the job will probably be found by the search firm,” Niemi said.

Niemi said it was too early in the search process to set a firm timeline, but he imagines that the committee should have a “manageable list” of candidates by mid-October. The earliest any candidates would visit campus would be late November, but Niemi said a more likely date is December or January. A potential announcement would be in February.

“By being aggressive, we hope to lead the market and get the best candidates,” Niemi said.

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