Search for UHV president whittled to five

Gabe Semenza

April 1, 2011 at 8:03 p.m.
Updated March 31, 2011 at 11:01 p.m.

A search committee on Friday named five finalists for the job of president of the University of Houston-Victoria.

All five, whittled from a list of dozens of candidates, will visit the Victoria campus in coming weeks and participate in public forums.

The news comes after a seven-month national search to replace Tim Hudson, the university's former president.

"We're very excited to have these candidates to consider for this position," said Kay Walker, a former UH System regent and one of 12 search committee members. "We're looking forward to their visits."

The forum dates and candidates are as follows:

April 19: William Fannin - provost and vice president for academic affairs, University of Texas of the Permian Basin.

April 21: William Nunez - chancellor and professor of biology, Louisiana State University at Eunice.

April 26: Philip Castille - professor and former vice chancellor of academic affairs, University of Hawaii at Hilo.

April 29: Ray Wallace - provost and senior vice chancellor, University of Arkansas-Fort Smith.

May 4: Earl Yarbrough - president, Savannah State University.

All forums will be in the university's multi-purpose room from 2 to 3 p.m.

Some question the timing of the announcement, however, which comes amid a legislative battle to move UHV from the UH System into the Texas A&M System.

Republican Rep. Geanie Morrison, of Victoria, filed in recent weeks House Bill 2556. If passed, the bill would move everything under the university's umbrella into the Aggie system.

Because the fate of the bill is unknown, no one knows which system UHV will call home in coming months.

"I applaud the University of Houston System for its forethought, but, all things considered, I think it's a little premature right now to make any decision that would affect our community," said Victoria Mayor Will Armstrong, a supporter of Morrison's bill.

Walker said the candidate pool was informed about the pending legislation.

"I really can't say anything else about it," she said.

The need for a new president arose when the UH System in August reassigned Hudson, who had held the job since 2004. Just weeks before classes began, the system named Hudson an assistant to the chancellor for international programs and initiatives.

Emails, obtained by the Advocate last year, showed many in the system - including its chancellor - disapproved of Hudson's aggressive and public push for growth.

The same month the system reassigned Hudson, it appointed Don Smith, a former UHV provost and vice president for academic affairs, as interim president.

A national search for Hudson's permanent replacement began almost immediately thereafter.

Despite the pending legislation, the system operates as usual, Walker said.

"The system has remained focused on assisting the university and finding a president," she said. "There have been no limitations on that. This is a high priority to get a president in place and get us back on the road."

The search committee is expected to make a recommendation to UH System Chancellor Renu Khator in early May.

A final decision is expected by early summer so the new president can begin his tenure by the start of the fall semester.



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