Thirty-eight candidates have applied to replace Dene Thomas as president of Fort Lewis College, 39 others have expressed interest in applying and 44 candidates have been nominated.
By Feb. 1, 2018, the deadline to apply, Ann Yates, an employee with Witt Kieffer, the firm hired by the school to recruit candidates, expects to receive about 80 applications. Even the Feb. 1 deadline is not set in stone, and Yates said if a particularly strong candidate applied shortly after the deadline, he or she would be forwarded to the committee for consideration.
On Thursday, Yates updated the Presidential Search Committee on Witt Kieffer’s progress, and committee members formalized the process to select FLC’s next leader.
On Feb. 14, the search committee will meet again and narrow the applicants down to eight to 10 candidates, who will receive interviews at the Denver Airport Marriott on March 1-2.
The search committee, based on the airport interviews, will name three to five finalists, whose names will be made public. They will be invited for on-campus interviews and meetings with leaders in the Durango community in late March.
“This is like preparing for a trial,” said Trustee Dick Kaufman.
In the next four to six weeks, Kaufman asked members of the search committee to prepare questions they will ask candidates during the airport interviews.
“We want an idea of where we’re headed by the Feb. 14 meeting,” he said.
Beginning Jan. 26, a confidential website will allow all members of the search committee to examine curriculum vitae and letters of application from the candidates. That research will lead to culling of candidates for airport interviews.
Confidentiality in the process is vital, Yates said, and she cautioned that if names become public before finalists are named, they would likely drop out.
In addition, Yates said it’s likely the strongest candidates will apply later in the process, in January.
“Our experience is stronger candidates tend to apply later. They want time to research the institution and the community. They want to evaluate the situation,” Yates told committee members.
Kaufman said he would expect many candidates would use the holidays to talk the situation over with their families to ensure they, too, are ready for the move.
When late-March, on-campus interviews are set, Yates said she expects all the publicly named finalists will be people the FLC community would be comfortable with leading the institution.
One final procedural matter, Kaufman said, is researching and establishing a compensation package for the next president.
“We want the people who are finalists to have a good idea of what they’re facing,” he said.
Thomas currently earns $260,000 annually and is provided with the use of a house and a car.
Kaufman said he expected to have a compensation package ready to present to the Board of Trustees at its meetings on Feb. 15-16.