By Emily Leayman

The search for KU’s next president is progressing. There have been five finalist interviews conducted in the past couple of weeks. A decision is expected to be announced during, or not long after, the spring semester, according to Kenn Marshall, media relations manager for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.

The next step, he says, is for the search committee to select two final candidates for the Council of Trustees. The search committee is made up of 15 people representing various constituents of the university, from students to faculty to the Council of Trustees.

Once the council approves them, it will submit the canidates’ names to the PASSHE Chancellor’s Office. The Board of Governors will then conduct interviews with the two finalists and will make a decision – with input from the search committee – within seven to 10 days. The new president’s start date would depend on their availability.

Rarely do presidents start in the middle of the semester, but Marshall said it has happened before. That said, is most likely that he or she will start after the semester ends, around June 1, or at the start of a new fiscal year, around July 1.

Current candidates include Dr. Carol Bresnahan, Kenneth Hawkinson, Lori Quigley, James Conneely and Lorrie Clemo.  The five were selected by the search committee after a national search conducted by Florida-based Greenwood/Asher & Associates, Inc.

According to Marshall, PASSHE keeps a list of executive search firms that universities may choose from depending on their needs and interests. The costs associated with the search are mostly supported by PASSHE funds through the Board of Governors.

Acting president Dr. Carlos Vargas-Aburto– former provost and vice president for academic student affairs for over 11 years– said that he intended to apply in August 2014. He later was not revealed to be a finalist, but it is also unclear if he was ever officially a candidate. The university has kept all information about all candidates, except the five finalists, confidential. The search committee interviewed 25 candidates in early December, according to one of the search committee’s members Joe Scoboria.

“Since the search is intended to be confidential, the only candidates that can be acknowledged are the five who were scheduled for on-campus interviews,” said Marshall of Vargas’s consideration in the search process.

According to the Board of Governors policy 1983-13-A, the acting president is allowed to apply but not participate or comment on the search process.

The search committee has enforced their confidentiality, as is outlined in the Board of Governors policy. Dr. Paul Quinn, the representative for the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties on the committee, spoke out in December saying the search was “biased,” according to a WFMZ article. Jack Wabby, the search committee chair, then removed Quinn from the committee, citing the Board of Governors policy.

According to the presidential search advertisement on the KU website, candidates should have experience as a faculty member and with senior leadership in higher education, while also understanding the diverse campus and contract negotiations. Other qualifications include planning, budgeting, financial management, faculty and staff development and ability to raise funds.

Former KU president, F. Javier Cevallos, was PASSHE’s first Hispanic president, and diversity has since played an important role in the search process. According to an email sent by Wabby to the campus in December, the search firm “contacted more than 600 sources, prospects and candidates regarding the presidency at Kutztown, including approximately 18.4 percent who are classified as minority and 33.5 percent who are women.”

“Diversity is important to our process and is reflected in the diversity of our search committee,” said Wabby in the email.

  For more information and updates about the presidential search, visit

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