OU winnows president search narrowed down to 7

Adam Troxtell | The Norman Transcript

NORMAN (TNS) — The University of Oklahoma took a step closer to its newest president on Monday, as the Board of Regents had its search for David Boren’s successor whittled down to seven.

Now, the Board of Regents will interview those seven candidates over the next few months behind closed doors. The Presidential Search Committee offered its report to the regents during executive session at a special meeting at the Robert M. Bird Library at the OU Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City.

“It’s a very strong group, a very diverse group, and each and every one is highly qualified to become the next president of the university,” Clayton Bennett, chair of the Board of Regents, said. “Obviously, we want to be respectful of the candidates. All are people of strong integrity, high character. We’re very excited about the task at hand.”

This marks the end of the search committee’s role in finding Boren’s successor. Chair David Holt and Vice Chair Gregg Garn, Dean of the Janine Rainbolt College of Education, said as they exited the meeting that they felt the list of candidates presented was thorough.

Neither the board nor the search committee will release the names of the finalists, and the public will not know who the new president is until that person is officially announced. No action was taken at Monday’s meeting.

The list of finalists includes people both from inside and outside the university, Bennett said. The goal of the committee was to find the best candidates available.

The next step will be setting up interview times over the next weeks and months. Boren said his retirement, scheduled for June 30, is contingent on the board naming his successor.

If the search were to go beyond June 30, Boren said he will remain in the position until a successor is found. However, Bennett said the plan is still to have a successor named in the scheduled amount of time.

The search committee has come under scrutiny from both students and faculty in the past few months. Some students felt there wasn’t enough representation from their point of view in choosing the next university president, while faculty members circulated a petition asking for the list of candidates to be publicly released.

Both Bennett and Rainbolt said they felt the committee represented all aspects of the university and that everyone involved had a fair say.