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June 10, 2011
CONTACT: K.E. Schwab

SRU trustee chair announces President Search Committee 

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – Slippery Rock University took the first formal step in finding the next president of the University with the announcement today of the presidential search committee.

Robert Smith, president since 2002, is retiring in January 2012.

Joshua Young, chair of the Slippery Rock University Council of Trustees made the announcement as part of today’s COT meeting.

“I have charged the search committee with the task of selecting the best possible candidates to lead our University into it next stage of development,” Young said. “Our goal is to have the search process completed before President Smith retires so that we can have a smooth and timely transition. This is a tremendous challenge, but one I believe we can meet.”

The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Board of Governors prescribes the process for selecting a president within the system. The committee’s work is mostly conducted in private, with intermittent reports to the University trustees and community regarding progress of the search.

The BOG has final authority in offering a contract to an applicant recommended by the Council of Trustees and approved by the state system chancellor.

The presidential search committee, after conducting a national search, including resume reviews and both off-campus and on-campus interviews that will include opportunities for the community to meet the candidates, will recommend finalists to the Council. The COT in turn will recommend three candidates to the chancellor.

“We obviously want a dynamic and visionary leader to continue the outstanding work of Dr. Smith,” Young said. “The University has made incredible strides forward in the past nine years. We expect the next president will both continue that progress and launch new, dynamic initiatives of their own.”

The BOG policy also dictates the makeup of the presidential search committee, Young said. Members of the presidential search committee are:

Trustee representatives: Eric Holmes of Pittsburgh, Suzanne Vassella of Ellwood City, John Hicks of Slippery Rock, and Robert Marcus of Harrisburg. They were elected by the COT.

Holmes, an SRU graduate and former president of the SRU Alumni Association, was appointed by Young to serve as chair of the search committee.

University executive: Cynthia Dillon, assistant to the provost in the Office of Academic Affairs.

Faculty: Bradley Wilson, associate professor of philosophy, and Christine Pease-Hernandez, assistant professor of communication, were elected by the Association of Pennsylvania State, College and University Faculty to fill the two faculty seats. Ben Shaevitz, professor of physics, is the alternate.

Alumna/us: Kimberly Jones, a 1996 SRU English graduate and current treasurer and president-elect of the SRU Alumni Association.

Non-instructional staff: Sharyn McGallis, clerk typist III in student development and a member of the American Federation of State, County Municipal Employees, and Brian Graham, assistant director of residence life and a member of the State College and University Professional Association. Roger Knight, supervisor in University Police, is the alternate.

Student: Justina Cerra, a communication major from Apollo, who was selected by the Student Government Association. Jordan Bailley, a political science major from North Versailles, is the alternate.

At large: Brad Kovaleski, director of SRU’s Center for Student Involvement and Leadership, and Mary Crawford, a member of the Slippery Rock University Foundation Inc. board of directors.

John Cavanaugh, PASSHE chancellor, appointed Angelo Armenti Jr., president of California University of Pennsylvania, and Gary Dent, vice chancellor for human resources and labor relations in the Chancellor’s Office, to serve as his representatives on the committee.

Young serves as an ex officio member of the committee.

Young said the SRU council would retain the recruiting firm of Storbeck/Pimentel and Association, with offices in Media, Pa., to aid in the preparation and evaluation of search materials. The search firm was selected from a BOG-approved list.

Charles Bunting, a consulting partner with the firm, will serve as SRU’s consultant. Bunting formerly served 15 years as chancellor of the Vermont State Colleges and is a member of the board of trustees of Hampton University, among other positions.

“While a presidential search is certainly a major undertaking for our University, I believe this well-rounded and diverse committee can complete the task in the allotted time. We will follow the guidelines presented by the board of governors and, of course, we ask that anyone who believes they are, or know someone who is, a potential candidate to join the application process. We are looking for a dynamic leader, and we will conduct a thorough and exhaustive search to find the best person to be the next president of Slippery Rock University,” Young said.

The committee’s first meeting was today.


Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania’s premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.