The presidential search committee hired after the passing of former SFA president Dr. Baker Pattillo hopes to find a new president by the fall 2019 semester.

In early March, a screening committee consisting of members of the SFA Board of Regents, as well as faculty, students and alumni representatives, hosted an open forum to gather ideas of what people are looking for in a new president. The Board of Regents also hired an outside search firm, R. William Funk & Associates, to aide in the search. The firm has helped find presidents for schools across the country, including Oklahoma State, Ohio State and Purdue University.

“We got, I thought, some pretty healthy feedback from members of the community,” said Alton Frailey, chair of the screening committee. “The number of students and the number of faculty members had some input there, and I know that we’ve gotten some input individually just from conversations regarding the attributions and skills they desire in the next president.”

Student Body President Jeffrey Agouna serves as the student representative on the search committee and said the open forum brought new ideas to light regarding the type of leader they’re looking for.

“I think that it’s vital that we take the bits of information that we got from that forum. For example, there was a regular theme of a progressive president,” Agouna said. “One that would like to think in the future and work with things that we already have established at this University and just expand or grow them. There were a lot of topics brought up in regard to diversity on campus. I know that there was a professor who mentioned that over the course of years, the percentage of African American students has significantly dropped, and those are some things that should be addressed. Those are some key points that the future president should be considering.”

According to its website, R. William Funk & Associates is a “premier firm dedicated to higher education search consulting... recognized for its unparalleled record in recruiting many of the nation’s most esteemed college and university leaders.”

Frailey said the firm is compiling information gathered from the forum and other small group meetings into a Presidential Leadership Statement and Profile based off of the feedback from the public.

“We’ve already put together just a brief little ad in a lot of journals, just a little one-pager about the university, and we are getting responses from folks via that,” Frailey said. “They have a number of clients and agents that this firm works with. As a large firm out of Dallas, they’ve done a lot of work across the country, so we have a lot of contacts, and they are beginning to receive reciprocal interest. I have received a couple of letters from folks who are recommending folks, and I forward those to the firm, and they’re collecting all of that.”

Frailey said the committee plans to announce the new president through an official statement and social media. There are possibilities of a press conference, although it has yet to be confirmed.

“We were hoping to have someone in place by this fall,” Frailey said. “Obviously at least identified if not on the ground."

“So right now, we’re still kind of on track to hope to have a finalist identified in time for the July board meeting. That’s our hope.”

Meredith Janning has worked on The Pine Log since her second semester at Stephen F. Austin. During her time at The Pine Log, Meredith has held the positions of staff writer and news editor.

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