Presidential Search Committee Selects final five candidates for campus interviews

Five finalist candidates for the position of New College president will be visiting the school between Feb. 20 and March 6. Faculty, staff and students will have the opportunity to meet each candidate during scheduled sessions. According to an e-mail sent by Special Assistant to the President and Staff Liaison to the Board of Trustees (BOT) Presidential Search Committee Suzanne Janney on Feb. 14, students can talk with candidates from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. in Chae Auditorium on the second day of each visit.

In addition to these meetings, students can read each candidate’s biography summary and application materials including received nomination letters and CVs. In an interview with the Catalyst, Janney said, “We are lucky to have five such good candidates who are all well qualified. Our Search Committee did a good job and the executive search firm Archer~Martin really delivered for us.”

The final candidates were selected by the Search Committee from a pool of applications sent to the college and suggestions by the search firm. An announcement was posted on the New College website, in addition to the ads placed by the school in the Chronicle of Higher Education and other online publications. Interested parties could view the leadership profile compiled by the Search Committee to determine their interest in the position.

Because of Florida’s Sunshine Laws, a candidate would be subject to public records law once they expressed interest in New College. According to Janney, the Search Committee worked closely with New College General Counsel David Smolker in determining how to best operate the search to comply with the Sunshine Laws while recruiting nationally.

About 40 applications were sent directly to New College in addition to the candidates Archer~Martin recruited from across the country. The Search Committee narrowed the pool down to ten candidates, and four members of the committee interviewed them by phone and Skype while assigning them a rating from “go forward” to “maybe” to “no.” The final five candidates were selected from alignment between suggestions from Archer~Martin and the committee members’ ratings.

The candidate review sheet created by the committee to evaluate each applicant includes ten main qualities (see sidebar) and will be provided to the community to use as well. Students and faculty can fill out their comments and submit them in boxes provided after meeting the candidates. “People need to share their thoughts right at the meeting and we’ll review the feedback right away,” Janney said. Soon after the last candidate leaves on March 6, the committee will meet, decide their first choice and make a recommendation to the BOT.  If the Board approves the candidate, the choice will be passed to the Board of Governors, who would then need to ratify the decision.

The final candidate will be replacing President Gordon “Mike” Michalson, who will most likely be taking a year off of paid leave before returning to New College as a Professor of Humanities. “He has big shoes to fill,” Janney said. “We are all so used to him and his ways. I think [the committee is] looking for someone for the next stage of New College’s development.  Many of the changes will be the same, but some will be different and even more challenging such as the budget climate.

“Our job is to really make each candidate want to come here,” Janney said. “They are deciding whether to uproot themselves and come to Sarasota. Would they be happy here? Would they fit in here? Are the people welcoming and nice? I hope that everyone keeps that in mind in their encounters with the candidates. We are really selling New College and selling ourselves to these people.”

More information on the search and candidates is provided at

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