- Associated Press - Friday, February 19, 2016

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) - The committee leading the search for a new Washington State University president has settled on eight finalists, and the process is on track for the Board of Regents to make their selection in April, the panel’s chairman said Friday.

The university initially reached out to some 200 people, and then whittled that list to about 20 prospects before making another round of cuts, said Mike Worthy, chairman of the Presidential Search Advisory Committee.

The final eight include women and members of minority groups, Worthy told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

“It was a diverse process,” he said.

The search committee decided early it would not release candidates’ names, even at the finalist level. That decision was intended to attract quality applicants without placing their careers at risk. Some faculty members have criticized the secrecy and a lack of on-campus interviews.

Worthy said he would like to present three finalists to the Board of Regents, but that number is not set in stone. The next step is a second round of interviews.

“We are on schedule for an April announcement for sure,” Worthy said.

The process seeks to replace former president Elson S. Floyd, who died of complications from colon cancer in June at age 59.

Floyd was considered a very successful president during his eight years at the helm. His crowning legacy was creating a new medical school at WSU-Spokane, which will be named for him.

Worthy noted Floyd was one of five finalists when he was hired in 2007 from the University of Missouri system.

The eight finalists include current university presidents and provosts, all with Ph.D.s. There is also a candidate from the private sector “with incredible credentials,” Worthy said.

Washington State University is based in Pullman, about 70 miles south of Spokane, and has branch campuses in Vancouver, Richland, Spokane and Everett. The system has about 29,000 students.

The search committee worked to identify the experience, background and characteristics that WSU constituents hoped to see in their new leader. It held nearly 30 meetings around the state to gather information.

The new chief executive should prioritize advancing the school to national prominence, securing funding for upcoming goals and bringing Cougar pride to all parts of the university, the committee concluded. The president should also work to integrate the talents of the Greek system more fully into the university; transform all WSU campuses into a system that works together seamlessly; and work to improve accessibility to higher education.

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