The Idaho Board of Education announced Thursday that after a first round of interviews of the remaining three finalists, it will extend and expand the search for the next Boise State University president.
As first reported by the Idaho Statesman on Saturday, some members of the search committee, business leaders and residents at large have voiced concern that the search for BSU's new president did not bring forward candidates up to the challenge of replacing retiring President Bob Kustra.
The decision to extend the search was announced during an open board meeting held on the Boise State campus, one day after the board conducted interviews with the finalists.
“This does not reflect on the finalists – all are very qualified and accomplished,” Linda Clark, president of the State Board, said in a statement.
The board will next work to identify and appoint an interim president while it continues the search, and also will seek to hire a different search firm.
“Extending the search was the right decision for the board to make,” Clark said. “We are committed to taking the time necessary to find an outstanding leader who is the best fit for Boise State University.”
The remaining finalists — James Lentini, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost at Oakland University; Kevin Reynolds, vice president for finance and administration at Portland State University; and Daniel Weeks, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Northern British Columbia — were interviewed by the board on Wednesday.
Weeks withdrew from consideration after his meeting with the board.
He said his visit to Boise State's campus in April "was an incredible experience," but in the end he felt it would not be a good fit for either side.
“In my conversation with the board, I got the sense they don’t understand the heavy lift it is going to be to take this great university to a global level,” Weeks said. “That requires a strong board, and I got the feeling there wasn’t enough passion to achieve that goal.”
Clark previously told the Statesman she is both aware of, and frustrated by, the concerns over the search. They're something the board is taking seriously, she said, but she emphasized that it was important to see the search process through.
The Boise State search committee, which included State Board members as well as university and community leaders, winnowed the original 53 applicants to 12 semifinalists, and then to five finalists, each of whom visited Boise in late April. Two finalists, Robbyn Wacker of Northern Colorado University and Jack Thomas of Western Illinois University, withdrew after their visits.
Wacker was named president of Minnesota's St. Cloud State University on May 16.
People have been critical of AGB Search, the company hired by the Idaho Board of Education to run the search, saying that the pool of presidential candidates for BSU was not strong or deep enough to begin with.
Kustra will retire June 30.