Chancellor Search Committee asks for opinions from campus community

February 21, 2017

Kyle Guthrie

[email protected]

     On Feb. 15, former Chancellor Pamela Shockley-Zalabak retired from her position as Venkat Reddy, former Dean of the College of Business, started as interim Chancellor the next day.

     Meanwhile, the search for the new chancellor began, and a search committee hopes to use insight from UCCS and the Colorado Springs community to help inform this process.

     The Chancellor Search Committee held a public meeting in the University Center on Feb. 15 to collect thoughts on what qualities the candidates should possess from faculty, administration and students who attended.

     The meeting was led by Jennifer Biehn and Monica Burton, partners in the search committee who are working with Leonard Dinegar, senior vice president and chief of staff for the Office of the President, to fill the position left by Shockley-Zalabak.

     “We really appreciate you being here. Don’t be afraid to contribute, because it is a very important part of the (search) process,” Biehn said to start the meeting.

     What some of the students who attended the meeting hope to see in the incoming chancellor included transparency, a background in philosophy and values in equality and justice. Multiple meetings have been held with different groups for the chancellor search, according to Dinegar.

Senior bio-med major Zaynib Hassan tapes her notes to the chancellor on Feb. 14. On Feb. 16, Venkat Reddy, former dean of the College of Business, started his role at interim chancellor at UCCS. Photo by Audrey Jensen: The Scribe

     “We want to know what they want to see in the next chancellor, and what opportunities they hope the new chancellor will bring,” he said.

     “We’ve also made phone calls with several people in the community to get their take on the relationship with the campus, so we are hearing from a lot of different folks with a lot of different, but good ideas.”

     One recurring issue mentioned at the meeting was the improvement of student retention.

     Interim chief of police Marc Pino stated that the statistics can be somewhat misleading due to factors like a high military population.

     “With folks like our military students, they or their spouses come to this school for classes, and then they get moved out. I think knowing that sort of information about the students is extremely important,” Pino said.

     Susan Szpyrka, senior vice chancellor of Administration and Finance, said that one of the primary focuses of the incoming chancellor should be an understanding of the relationship between technological advancement and student retention.

     “They need to have more than just an understanding of what it means to be online. They need to have an understanding and support system for the faculty teaching online. There may be solutions that we haven’t even identified yet,” she said.

     Shannon Cable, director of Student Employment, said that student jobs and outside employment should be a primary concern for the chancellor.

     “We have to make sure that our chancellor keeps up with knowing how we are going to help our students pay for all of this,” she said.

     “Financially, she should be well versed in the public world of financing, and what that entails. We have been really good at growing employment opportunities for students, so we should be committed to their continued employment outside of the campus.”

     Gary Reynolds, associate vice chancellor of Campus Planning and Facilities Management, said that in his years of seeing seven administrative transitions, a respect for all faculty and personnel is key in a successful chancellor.

     “I’ve seen presidents come in who are very top-down oriented, they didn’t have respect for the talents and skills and panels of the people who support the university,” Reynolds said.

     “I’ve seen others who have been the opposite, who respected the staff and skills of those individuals, and understood what those people brought to the institution. I think it’s important to ensure that the culture of respect here carries on, and doesn’t transition back into a top-down leader. That will make a tremendous impact on morale.”

     Dinegar stated that if it is a good fit, interim Chancellor Reddy could earn the position.

     “The president is committed to finding the perfect chancellor for the position. If we don’t find it in this pool, then we will start over. He is dedicated to doing this right,” he said.

     “Anybody can nominate anybody, assuming they fit the criteria of the position.”