Search narrows: Michigan Tech down to four candidates

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Bill Johnson, chairman of Michigan Technological University’s presidential search committee, updates the Tech Board on the search Friday. The committee narrowed the field to four candidates, who will now be interviewed by the board.

HOUGHTON — Michigan Technological University has narrowed its presidential search to four candidates, all of whom come from outside Michigan Tech, search committee Chairman Bill Johnson said Friday. The slate of candidates was recommended unanimously.

“It’s a fine field,” he said after providing an update at the Tech Board’s meeting Friday. “Very experienced. Wonderful, wonderful track records, and we’re very pleased with the work the search firm did in helping us identify candidates from across the country. Tech has such a fine reputation that it drew a lot of attention from some very fine candidates.”

The university is seeking the successor to Glenn Mroz, who became president in 2004. He announced last year he would step down as president this summer and rejoin the faculty.

“More than six and less than 12,” candidates were interviewed of the more than 50 who applied, Johnson said. The committee narrowed that to six candidates before making reference calls. The search committee met for three hours Wednesday reviewing the candidates’ references.

“This is a wonderful group who did a great job,” Johnson said. “They put aside whatever personal view they might have of their department and over a period of time you could really see this change occur, and they really looked out for the whole university.”

The Tech Board will meet with the final four candidates over the next couple of weeks. It will meet at a special meeting sometime in the spring to elect a new president.

In addition to four board members, 10 at-large members were picked from Tech and the community. Other nominees became part of a focus group. Over a nine-month period, the commission met with the focus group six times.

“Everybody who was nominated was involved in some form of the search process,” Johnson said.

The search committee held three open forums on campus. They were also livestreamed, with the most recent one drawing 30 viewers. Sixteen other forums were held — 13 on campus and three downstate.

The feedback from those early forums went into building a profile for the traits they wanted in a new president. All four candidates fit the profile, Johnson said.

“I reminded (the committee) regularly we’re going to recommend people who we’re all satisfied could be the next president of the university,” Johnson said. “That way, you can say as a committee you chose the next president of the university. You just don’t know which one it is.”

Five updates have been posted at mtu.edu/president-search; the next one should be posted sometime next week, Johnson said.

Search committee members also updated the Tech Senate twice, including this week.

In selecting the search committee, attention was paid to maximizing diversity and minimizing potential bias, Johnson said. The committee members also took bias training, as did the Tech Board members.

“We had a test,” he said. “Everybody took the test. I’m glad to report everybody passed.”

They went through a refresher course on implicit bias prior to interviewing candidates, Johnson said.

The board passed a resolution Friday honoring the members of the search committee for its work.

“You have executed your mission flawlessly,” board chairman Terry Woychowski said.

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