- Associated Press - Monday, June 15, 2015

LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) - The state’s only public, four-year university should have a new president in about eight months, according to a timeline adopted Monday by the University of Wyoming Board of Trustees.

“I would call it semi-aggressive,” said trustee John MacPherson, who chaired a planning committee that drafted a plan for finding and hiring UW’s third new president in as many years.

Trustee Mel Baldwin said the search for a new president is the most critical matter for the university and it’s important to stay within the established timelines.

“This is a biggie in my mind,” Baldwin said. “We’ve got to keep the search going.”

President Dick McGinity is leaving after being appointed to the job in January 2014. He replaced Bob Sternberg, who resigned in November 2013 after less than five months on the job.

The search for a new president will be done out of the public eye at the outset while a pair of committees made up of trustees, UW staff, faculty and others find a search firm and review applications. It will become public next January when three to five finalists are selected and brought to campus for interviews and public meetings.

UW trustees have taken different approaches in hiring the college’s top administrator over the last couple of years.

The Sternberg search, which occurred after Tom Buchanan retired after eight years, raised controversy because the trustees tried to conduct it entirely in secret. The threat of a lawsuit by media eventually forced the trustees to release the names of the finalists.

The controversy prompted the 2013 Legislature to pass a law that allows UW and the state’s community colleges to conduct entirely secret searches.

In January 2014, the trustees disregarded their own policy and procedures by appointing McGinity to the job with no formal search undertaken.

After McGinity announced in April that he would step down when his contract expired next year, the trustees decided to release the names of the finalists and bring the public into the search process.

MacPherson said it’s unlikely UW will attract any sitting college presidents because of how their application might be viewed by their present employer.

“But I’m hopeful and guardedly optimistic that we’ll have a fine slate of candidates from which to make a selection,” MacPherson said.

He said it was too soon to estimate how much the search will cost.

Plans are to hire a search firm and appoint a “search recruiter” with “comprehensive knowledge of and experience with UW” to coordinate the search and assist in other ways.

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This story has been corrected to show that former UW President Bob Sternberg resigned in 2013.

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