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12 finalists now

It took five and a half hours of deliberation, but the Lurleen B. Wallace Community College presidential search committee narrowed down its list of applicants to 12 following Friday’s planning meeting.

“These are all very strong credentialed applicants at this point in the process,” said Dr. James Mitchell, president of Wallace Community College-Selma and chair of the LBWCC presidential search committee, following Friday’s meeting. “This is when you dig deeper into the resumes. We did a cursory process of making sure they met the minimum qualifications. Now we begin to look at what experiences that they have that might best meet the needs of this community college.”

At the start of the meeting, the 11-member committee looked at a list of 58 possible applicants. Following a process of elimination and voting, the committee narrowed the list down to a final 12. None of the 12 is from Alabama.

The 12 finalist candidates are:

Dr. Patricia K. Adkins, Westerville, Ohio — provost of Columbus State Community College;

Dr. Cornelius Bell, Beaufort, S.C. — associate chancellor of the University of South Carolina-Beaufort;

Dr. Jeffrey A. Cantor, Pensacola, Fla. — provost of Pensacola Junior College;

Dr. Raymond V. Cummiskey, Harrisburg, Ill. — president of Southeastern Illinois College;

Dr. Michael A. Elam, Port Orange, Fla. — vice president for student development at Daytona State College;

Dr. Ralph L. Ford, North Plainfield, N.J. — vice president of student services at Union County College;

Dr. Susan E. Karr, Little Rock, Ark. — vice president of instruction at Ouachita Technical College;

Dr. William P. Leonard of Palos Park, Ill.;

Dr. Anne S. McNutt, Hilton Head Island, S.C. — president of Technical College of the Low Country;

Dr. Herbert H.J. Riedel, Pittsburg, Texas — vice president for instruction and student development at Northeast Texas Community College;

Dr. Stanley M. Sidor, Palm Coast, Fla. — associate vice president of the College of Engineering at Daytona State College and Dr. Gary Stretcher, Port Neches, Texas — vice president for academic affairs at Lamar State College.

Those 12 will now be administered a questionnaire over the weekend by the Birmingham executive search firm Wheless & Associates. The committee will then meet Monday TO examine the answers to those questionnaires as a part of the process of narrowing the list down to a final five candidates.

Those five candidates will then meet the public at a community reception to be held at the conference center on the MacArthur campus on Mon., Oct. 27. The committee will interview candidates Tues., Oct. 28, and the final three candidates will interview with Postsecondary Chancellor Bradley Byrne on Wed., Oct. 29.

Byrne will then make a recommendation to the Board of Education on Tues., Nov. 11. The state board hopes to have a new president in place by Jan. 1, 2009.

Friday, the narrowing process took several steps. First, the committee divided the initial 56 applications into three groups — “yes,” (as in, “yes, this application should be considered”) “no” and “maybe.” There were six applications for “yes,” 21 for “no” and 29 for “maybe.”

The six “yes” applications were set aside for further consideration and the 29 “maybe” applications were then separated further into “yes” and “no” groups. Of those 29, there were 13 selected for the “yes” group and 16 for the “no” group.

All of the applications from the two “yes” piles — 19 in total — were then placed in a pool and each committee member was asked to fill in a ballot with their personal top 12 selections. Those votes were tabulated and the applicants with the highest totals were then selected as the top 12.

There was a four-way tie for the final two slots, as four candidates tied with five votes each. The committee came to a consensus to solve the tie by having a separate runoff election for the final two slots.

“I think you use common sense and try to do the thing that’s fair to all the candidates that are left,” Mitchell said. “I think that listening to the committee; that was probably the fairest way to go as we did, in terms of having a runoff. Because there were some that obviously there was great consensus on, in terms of number of votes.”

The other members of the committee are Jackie Curry, administrative assistant and dean of student affairs at LBWCC; Diaon Cook, English/reading instructor at LBWCC; Ramona Franklin, psychology/sociology instructor at LBWCC; Martha Simmons, executive director of communications in the Alabama Department of Postsecondary Education; James Perdue, probate judge of Crenshaw County; Jeddo Bell, mayor pro-tem of Greenville; Allen Foster, administrator of Mizell Memorial Hospital; Brenda Petty, administrator of the Covington County Commission; Tucson Roberts, director of the Covington County Economic Development Commission; and David Walters, retired.

Wayne Bennett has been serving as interim president at LBWCC since May, when then-president Dr. Ed Meadows left to take the same position at Pensacola Junior College in Florida.

All meetings of the search committee are open to the public and subject to open meetings, also known as “sunshine laws.”