Search for new LHU president is heating up



For the Express

LOCK HAVEN — A committee looking to select a new president of Lock Haven University expects to receive 100 to 120 applications, partly because of the school’s strong performance evaluation.

Current President Dr. Michael Fiorentino Jr. set the search for a new leader in motion when he announced last Aug. 2 that he will retire this March 16,

Longtime LHU trustee Guy Graham is chairing the search committee.

He told The Express, “This is where the bulk of the search will be completed, and with that, the committee will be assisted by the search consulting firm, RPA Inc.”

One of Graham’s initial jobs as chairman was to decide on a search firm.

“We chose RPA Inc. because they have knowledge through working with other PASSHE (Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education) colleges and the cost was appropriate. It’s a good fit for the search committee.”

The committee consists of faculty, staff, administration, alumni and students and has the duty to define the expectations for the candidates, interview the candidates who fit those expectations, and then designate selected candidates for further consideration, according to Graham.

The university’s board of trustees and the PASSHE board of governors must then approve.

Graham said that on Jan. 22 the committee will have a very long meeting to narrow the list of candidates to a more manageable eight to 10.

During February and March, the committee will interview “eyeball-to-eyeball in three- to four-hour interviews,” said Graham.

From there, the committee will further narrow the candidates to only four to six.

These candidates will then be brought to campus to meet faculty, deans and students.

“On March 30, two applications will be submitted. I’ll go down to Harrisburg and talk to the chancellor and the board of governors,” Graham said.

Dana Cohick, vice president and senior consultant of RPA Inc., said,“Right now, we’re networking and considering candidates and the committee has been doing a wonderful job in working with us.”

Concerning anything more specific, Cohick apologized.

“I’m sorry, that’s confidential,” he said.

However, Cohick said RPA has high expectations.

“Lock Haven is key in PASSHE and is ranked first in PASSHE schools for performance funding,” Cohick said. “Lock Haven is in good financial standing and that has been translating to our applicants,”

Last November, Cohick met with students on campus in an open forum to discuss the kind of qualities they would like the new president to possess and issues he or she should be aware of.

Though there were few students who took advantage of that opportunity, the ones who attended had strong opinions, Cohick said.

According to those students, the new president must be approachable and want to listen to students.

Dr. Fiorentino can often be seen walking around campus and will occasionally eat at the Bentley Dining Hall.

Students hope that the new president will continue that.

Currently, Halls such as Raub and Robinson have fallen into disrepair, students said.

Students believe those and other buildings should be renovated to something akin to the new Science Center on East Campus.

Students told The Express that Cohick was exceedingly helpful and honest in talking to them.

Meanwhile, the job of president of a PASSHE university seems to be a hard one to keep.

LHU joins Clarion, Mansfield, Slippery Rock, Shippensburg and West Chester in seeking a new president.

Nearly half of all 14 universities in the PASSHE system are left with either interim or retiring presidents.

But Graham is resolute in finding the right person for the job.

“I have a great committee that works very hard. It takes a lot of hours to go over all of those applications,” he said.