A “preferred candidate” for the new university president will be brought before the Faculty Senate in the near future, according to Chairman of the Presidential Search Committee Thad Westbrook.
The announcement was made at the Faculty Senate meeting on Dec. 1. Westbrook said the candidate, whose identity was not revealed, “has really risen to the top” of the multiple candidates the committee has interviewed.
Currently, there are no plans for any other candidates to meet the faculty, according to Westbrook.
“We recognize there is a desire for the vetting of multiple candidates on campus. But we're in a seller's market. And we're in a place where there are other searches that are accelerating and the individual that the search committee felt strongly about and that the board feels strongly about is someone that has options,” Westbrook said.
Westbrook said the candidate was the only one that every member of the search committee agreed should be interviewed by the Board of Trustees.
Though a specific date for the meeting between faculty and the candidate could not be stated, Audrey Korsgaard, who sat in for meetings with the candidates, said the meeting was “imminent”.
More information will be released “in the coming days”, according to Westbrook.
“We're working through some of the logistics, but there will be an opportunity for immediate feedback coming from the faculty and students and others in the university community, but particularly the faculty,” Westbrook said.
Westbrook did not specify how students would be involved in the meeting with the candidate.
Westbrook said the list of candidates was a “high-quality group and a diverse group.” No details about the background of the preferred candidate were given. Twenty of the 50 candidates were selected as finalists with the group of 50 being half women and POC, according to previous reporting done by The Daily Gamecock.
“We do have to accommodate to the demands and expectations of the candidates who expect a lot of privacy for some good reasons,” Korsgaard said.
Westbrook encouraged the faculty at the senate meeting to compare the “preferred candidate” to the presidential leadership profile put out by the university in September 2021.
“The candidates we looked at were all really outstanding. I feel comfortable with any of them in a presidential role. So I'm very excited about where we're going right now,” Korsgaard said.
Dr. Jason Stacy, Interim Vice President of Health and Well-Being and Chief Health Officer, told the senate it was too early to say how the Omicron variant would affect the Spring semester.
Stacy said the current thought is that vaccines will continue to protect people from severe illness and death from contracting the disease. He said at this time he did not anticipate any changes to mask policy on campus.
“We're trying to not overreact, but we're also trying to be smart and not release things and then have to pull things back,” Stacy said.
Interim university president Harris Pastides, who is an epidemiologist, also said it was too early to say what policies would be in place in the Spring.
“We were beginning to contemplate some level of relaxation (of mask mandates), not in the classroom but in other indoor spaces where social distancing could be assured. But we just don't know yet,” Pastides said.