August 24, 2011 12:24:00 PM
It''s a big week for Mississippi University for Women, with students settling into their classes and the search for a new president kicking into high gear.
Thursday, a series of public-input sessions will be held on campus to gather feedback from community leaders, MUW administrators and department heads, faculty members, staff, alumni and other groups, asking each what qualities and qualifications they would like to see in MUW''s next leader.
Bridget Smith Pieschel, professor of English and director of the Center for Women''s Research and Public Policy, said she''s looking forward to the sessions and plans to participate. The mood on campus Wednesday was "upbeat and positive" as everyone looks toward the future, she said.
"We''ve been really successful in turning things around with Allegra Brigham as interim president, and I think that''s a sign we really need to look for another highly qualified alumnae to be president of the university," Pieschel said. "We need someone who knows Mississippi and the university well and understands how higher education works in Mississippi. If we had someone who had that kind of experience, that person could hit the ground running, and there wouldn''t be a learning curve."
Pieschel, who graduated from MUW in 1979, praised Brigham, saying she has been good for MUW as an interim president and that energy around the campus is high.
"We are on the upward trend now, and it''s a good time for a new president to come," she said. "We''ve had so much progress over the past year. It''s amazing."
Brigham, who earned her bachelor''s and master''s degrees at the college and previously served as MUW''s director of public relations, was named interim president last May following the retirement announcement of then-president Claudia Limbert. The state College Board has said it hopes to have a new president in place by the end of the year.
The bulk of the listening sessions will take place in the ballroom at MUW''s Cochran Hall. Sessions begin at 7:30 a.m. with a community leaders session and conclude at 2:45 p.m. with a campus and community session.
Three microphones will be set up for participants from each group to ask questions and talk about what they feel the next president should bring to MUW in terms of background, experience, outlook and overall vision.
Presidential candidates have until Sept. 2 to submit applications. Once the campus listening sessions are complete, members of the search advisory committee will use the input they gleaned to submit qualified candidates to the board search committee. Candidates will be interviewed this fall.
Those who are not able to attend Thursday''s listening sessions will be able to read the minutes of the sessions, along with all comments made -- with names deleted -- on the state College Board''s website at www.mississippi.edu/ieo/muw_search.asp.
Carmen K. Sisson is the former news editor at The Dispatch.
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