With two empty leadership seats in the SIU system, the board of trustees hosted a special meeting to give SIU System President J. Kevin Dorsey acting chancellor powers for SIUC and begin a search for a permanent president.

After nearly four hours of closed session deliberations last Friday, the board selected Witt/Kieffer Inc. to lead the nation-wide search for the next permanent SIU System president.

SIUE Student Trustee Molly Smith said the meeting took longer than expected.

“I expected to be out of here by noon,” Smith said.

Witt/Kieffer has previously done presidential searches for Central Michigan University, American Jewish University and Salem State University, as well as other university and corporate positions.

At a press conference after the meeting, Dorsey said he was not interested in seeking a permanent position.

Dorsey said the best-case scenario to expect would be a permanent president in fall 2019.

“[The president search] will get started as soon as we can get a contract signed and do a little bit more due diligence in preparation for the search,” Dorsey said.

Board of Trustees Chair Amy Sholar also said the board hopes to have a presidential search consultant by January, and that the consultant should be working with the Association of Governing Boards — the firm selected to perform a funding allocation study on the SIU System in order to figure out what kind of president the system needs.

“We’re [evaluating the SIU System] simultaneously,” Sholar said.

While the board gave Dorsey the power to act as SIUC’s chancellor — a position that has been vacant since former SIUC Chancellor Carlo Montemagno died on Oct. 11 —  Sholar also said she does not think the board’s regularly scheduled meeting would be too soon to appoint an interim chancellor.

As part of an email sent to members of the SIUC community in late October, Dorsey said the presidential search needed to be completed before the university could look for a full-time chancellor for Carbondale.

“It would be difficult to attract a chancellor without a permanent president in place, so the board’s first priority after the interim chancellor appointment must remain a presidential search,” Dorsey said.

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