CHAMPAIGN – Six finalists picked as candidates for Parkland President Zelema Harris' job will visit campus in March to meet students, community representatives and members of the board.
Finalists picked this week who will visit Champaign include: Betty Young, president of Northwest State Community College at Archbold, Ohio; Robert Exley, vice president of academic affairs at Iowa Western Community College, Council Bluffs; and Eric McKeithan, president of Cape Fear Community College, Wilmington, N.C. They will visit campus on March 8, 9 and 10, respectively.
Finalists also include: Gordon Burns, president of Wilkes Community College, North Carolina; Kathryn Jeffery, chief executive for the Community College of Southern Nevada's Charleston campus; and Robert Paxton, president of Iowa Central College at Fort Dodge. They will visit campus on March 13, 14 and 15, respectively.
Members of the search committee said 31 candidates submitted applications for Harris' job. She will retire June 30 after 16 years as president.
"Our search consultants screened them down to 22, and the search committee narrowed it down to 12," said Lin Warfel, who was chairman of the 14-member committee. He said those 12 candidates submitted videos; committee members reviewed them and then picked the six finalists.
Dorothy Voyles, head of Parkland's English and Critical Studies Department, said she was happy with the quality of the applicants.
"You wonder when they're following someone like Harris, who has a stellar international reputation, whether that will help or hurt," she said.
"All six are outstanding," Warfel said. "Now we're interested to see them on campus and in the community, how they deal with questions, their presence in public, their ability to engage quickly. To a large extent, a college president is a salesperson."
Nancy Willamon, assistant to the president and the board, said members of the public are invited to attend public receptions to be held for each candidate. Times will be posted on the college's Web site and at other public places.
Willamon said resumes of each candidate will also be available in the Parkland library.
Willamon said the board hopes to vote on the new president at its meeting March 22.