The University of South Alabama Board of Trustees voted to continue its presidential search process last night, hours after it convened to consider the qualifications of two of the three candidates forwarded by a search committee. The day before, Dr. Arthur Ross, the Dean of the School of Medicine at West Virginia University, withdrew his name from the search and the board was “unable to reach a consensus” on the remaining finalists.
Ross, who is responsible for three campuses in separate areas of West Virginia, said his decision to withdraw was based on two factors.
“It was not a problem with the university or anyone with the university, and I’ve communicated this with the Board,” he said. “First, we’ve put together here at WVU the most wonderful, incredible, terrific team I’ve ever worked with and what made it tough is that just in the last six to eight weeks, I’ve filled two critical senior-level positions, people who left really good jobs elsewhere to join our team, and it was hard for me to say, ‘thanks for coming, but I’m going.’”
Ross said he was also daunted by a logistical problem: In the three-and-a-half years he has lived in Morgantown, he and his wife had been unable to sell their house in Chicago, where he was previously dean of Chicago Medical School.
“My wife still spends part of her time in Chicago, and the eight hour drive to Morgantown is manageable,” he said. “We realized Mobile would have been a more difficult and challenging situation for my wife and I to have the commuter relationship, and it wouldn’t have allowed us to dedicate all our time to the university.”
The remaining finalists were Dr. Sheri Noren Everts, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Illinois State University and Dr. Jerome A. Gilbert, Provost and Executive Vice President at Mississippi State University. Neither immediately returned calls for comment.
According to a press release, the special board-appointed search committee of faculty, staff, students and alumni will reconvene Nov. 21 to continue the search process, and presumably forward another list of finalists.
Board Chairman Dr. Steven Furr said in a statement the board was “committed to choosing an exceptional leader. We are extremely confident that the right person will emerge during this search.”