South Alabama trustees undecided on next university president

November 8, 2013 10:03:20 AM

Carl Smith - [email protected]


The University of South Alabama Board of Trustees voted Tuesday to continue the school's presidential search and re-open it to other candidates. 


In September, three candidates, including Mississippi State University Provost Jerry Gilbert, emerged from the search process and were scheduled for two-day campus interviews through October. 


The board was originally expected to name a new president by late October, but Wednesday's action now delays that announcement indefinitely. The board-appointed search committee, comprised of faculty, staff, students, alumni and university supporters, will reconvene Nov. 21 to continue the search process. 


Bob Lowry, South Alabama's interim director of public relations, told Alabama news site that the confirmed candidates now "are no longer finalists for that position." The news group also reported that one of the finalists, University of West Virginia School of Medicine Dean Arthur Ross III, pulled his application out of the mix Tuesday. The third finalist was Sheri Noren Everts, Illinois State University's provost and vice president for academic affairs. 


"This search process brought a strong field of outstanding individuals to the university, but we were unable to reach a consensus on our remaining finalists. Therefore, the trustees agreed unanimously to continue the search," said Steve Furr, USA Board of Trustees chairman, in a release. "We are extremely confident that the right person will emerge during this search." 


Former USA President Gordon Moulton retired July 1 after serving 15 years in the position. John W. Smith, the school's acting president, is not a candidate for the job. 


Gilbert, who holds a bachelor's degree in biological engineering from MSU and a doctorate from Duke University, joined MSU in 1988 as an adjunct appointment in the College of Veterinary Medicine, working his way through the ranks and later becoming associate provost and assistant vice president for academic affairs in 2004. He was named provost and executive vice president in 2010. 


USA employs in excess of 5,500 people, has an annual operating budget of about $750 million and is tied to three hospitals. Its educational colleges include health-related studies - allied health and colleges of medicine and nursing - and business, education, engineering, information technology and arts and sciences.

Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch