Committee aims to name new president by April

The search for Seattle Pacific’s next president is progressing toward its goal of announcing Dr. Philip Eaton’s successor by April. The Presidential Search Committee sifted through nearly 200 nominees to select a handful of semifinalists for the position, Dr. Robert Drovdahl said.

Dr. Drovdahl, professor of theology, is acting as faculty representative on the committee, along with Dr. Denise Daniels, associate dean of undergraduate studies in the School of Business and Economics.

The rest of the 13-member committee consists of SPU trustees, administration, faculty, and student representative senior Josh Norquist, president of the Associated Students of Seattle Pacific.

Applicants for the presidential position came mostly through nomination by SPU faculty, staff, alumni and students. Nominees were then contacted and screened by search consultant firm J. Baker and Associates, Dr. Drovdahl said.

“Over 200 people were nominated,” Dr. Drovdahl said. “We left some really good candidates behind, [but] that’s a good thing.”

The committee narrowed the nominees to about 20 candidates before choosing the semifinalists.

In an email to staff and faculty on Friday, Dennis Weibling, chairman of the SPU Board of Trustees, credited the large number of applicants to Dr. Eaton’s contributions to SPU.

The committee is not revealing the names of the semifinalists as a way to respect the candidates and to guard the integrity of the selection process, Weibling said.

Although he would not share specific details, Norquist said each candidate represents a unique perspective on leadership.

“It’s about engaging in the narrative of who [the candidates] are and if they’re a fit for SPU,” Norquist said.

The committee is on target for its goal of announcing the new president by early April, Dr. Drovdahl said.

The presidential leadership profile, created early this academic year by the committee, consists of 10 key characteristics that range from more easily verified information to more subjective qualities, Dr. Drovdahl said.

Qualifications the committee looked for include having a deep relationship with Christ, a collaborative leadership style, membership in or a willingness to become a member of the Free Methodist Church, a track record of successful fundraising, strong communication skills and a deep appreciation for teaching and scholarship, according to the profile, which is available on SPU’s website.

Norquist said the list is comprehensive.

“All of us on the committee spent a decent amount of time living on that list before we decided on it,” Norquist said. “It is essential that the new president continues to build on SPU’s current vision.”

Dr. Drovdahl said he considers an ability to lead an important quality in a future president.

“We already know that we will have a new vice president of academic affairs as well,” Dr. Drovdahl said. “Leading a team will be important.”

The committee plans to hold interviews over the next three to four weeks, Dr. Drovdahl said. He emphasized the importance of these interviews, during which the committee will spend multiple hours getting to know candidates.

“We hope that this process adds a lot of valuable information and perspective on these finalists,” Dr. Drovdahl said, referring to the committee’s expectations as well as his own.

“When we first set out this timeline, there was a concern that it was tight,” he said. “But we’ve stayed on track.”

If the schedule continues as planned, the new president will be in place by July 1, Weibling said.

As the student representative on the committee, Norquist hopes his input will speak for an important population at SPU: the students who attend the university.

“It’s a unique perspective [on the committee],” he said.

Norquist said he would have to get a better read on candidates before he could choose a favorite. He referenced SPU’s current president when speaking of the qualities that stand out to him.

“Dr. Eaton always tells me the difference between good leaders and great leaders is [that] great leaders lead with vision,” Norquist said.

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Title: Committee aims to name new president by April | Author: Christine Cook | Section: News | Published Date: 2012-02-29 | Internal ID: 8079