Southern presidency still open, but board has yet to begin accepting applications

DANBURY–The president of Southern Connecticut State University resigned under pressure almost a year ago, but a search for her successor has yet to begin.

And judging from Thursday’s meeting of the Connecticut State University System’s Board of Trustees, it could be another six months before resumes begin rolling in.

“I have yet to make up my mind how to proceed,” board Chairman Karl Krapek said as the board discussed options for the search.

Last month’s decision by Chancellor David G. Carter to step down as head of the 37,000-student, four-campus system by September has made the decision more complex. “We are faced with two open positions,” Krapek said. “So do we do those searches simultaneously?”

CSUS krapek and carter

CSUS Chancellor and David G. Carter and Board of Trustees Chairman Karl Krapek at Thursday’s meeting

Another potential complication is a decision by state lawmakers to review the CSUS administrative structure, including whether the system needs to have a president at each campus and a chancellor in a central office in Hartford.

Krapek said he was leaning towards filling Carter’s position first. He expects the search to take 6 months and will generate up to 200 applications. Then, he said it would be time to fill the open presidency at Southern.

Andrew Chu, a student at Southern studying business marketing, said that’s not good enough.

“If we wait any longer, well, that’s too long to have the position open,” Chu said. “It could be several years before this campus has some direction, that’s my concern.”

Krapek acknowledged that having an interim president – currently Stanley Battle – for too long at the 12,000-student campus in New Haven does concern him.

“He has a lot of vision, but he doesn’t have a lot of latitude,” Krapek said of Battle.

But Krapek and several board members worry that launching both searches at the same time could reduce the candidate pool, with qualified applicants going after just one of the spots. Also, uncertainty of who will be in charge of the four campuses could deter candidates from applying for the Southern presidency.

“You won’t get the best list of candidates if you don’t know who the chancellor is,” Krapek said, adding that launching a search at the beginning of a school year is difficult. He believes most applicants are hesitant to leave their current positions at the beginning or during the middle of the school year.

Professors of Southern also told the board of their concern with the delay. Norton was notified in November she was being let go and she left the position in June.

“That search needed to be launched immediately,” said Jon Bloch, chairman of the sociology department at Southern. “Having an interim president makes things a little awkward. … How much vision can they have?”

Krapek said he will decide in the next two weeks whether to launch a search to fill the chancellor and Southern presidency positions at the same time.

Battle would not say whether he intends to apply.

“We’ll see. It’s a very interesting opportunity,” he said.