Three finalists to be Columbus State president announced

The search for Columbus State University’s next president is down to three finalists.

Randy Hanna, 56, ex-chancellor of the Florida College System (formerly known as the Florida Community College System).

Chris Markwood, 49, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.

Carl Stockton, 57, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at the University of Houston-Clear Lake.

University System of Georgia Board of Regents chairman Neil L. Pruitt Jr. and chancellor Hank Huckaby made the announcement in a news release Tuesday.

The board is expected to vote on the fifth president in CSU’s 57-year history “at a future meeting,” the release said. The board has a regularly scheduled meeting on April 14-15 at Georgia Gwinnett College in Lawrenceville.

Hanna was chancellor of the Florida College System from 2011 through the end of 2014, when he resigned to pursue a university presidency and return to the Tallahassee, Fla., law firm Bryant Miller Olive, where he worked for 27 years. He has been a college professor, college board member, a trustee for educational and state organizations and an attorney for the Florida Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services and then-U.S. Sen. Bob Graham. Hanna has a law degree from Florida State University and a doctorate in higher education management from the University of Pennsylvania. Markwood has been provost and vice president for academic affairs at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi since 2011. He was at the University of Wisconsin-Superior for five years, serving as interim chancellor and vice president for academic affairs and dean of faculties. He also has served and taught at the University of Central Oklahoma and Lamar University in Texas. He has a doctorate in political science from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Stockton has been provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at University of Houston-Clear Lake since 2007. He was a dean at the University of Texas-Brownsville and has served and taught at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington and Radford University in Virginia. He has a doctorate in health education from the University of Tennessee.

Three weeks ago, the CSU Presidential Search and Screening Committee recommended to the Special Regents’ Search Committee those three candidates along with Jose-Marie Griffiths, 62, vice president for academic affairs at Bryant University in Rhode Island, where she has worked since 2010. She was a dean at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and has served or taught at the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Michigan, the University of Tennessee, The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and the University of California-Berkeley.

Asked why Hanna, Markwood and Stockton were recommended and Griffiths wasn’t, Charlie Sutlive, the Georgia Board of Regents vice chancellor for communications told the Ledger-Enquirer, “These are the finalists that have made it to this point with the diligence of the search committee. This extensive presidential search process that started with the campus committee will continue, and we will continue to keep the Columbus State community informed about this process.”

The campus committee eliminated only one of the five candidates who visited CSU last month: Aldemaro Romero Jr., 63, the former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Southern Illinois University, where he is a biology professor after losing his five-year deanship Dec. 31 in a reorganization. But the state board requires the local committee to recommend 3-5 candidates, so the highest number of visiting candidates the local committee could have eliminated was two.Out of 60 applicants, the 17-member search and screening committee chose 11 to interview. Ten were interviewed in February in Atlanta.

The five candidates who visited CSU each spent parts of three days meeting with groups and individuals, including two forums open to the public, one on the main campus in midtown and the other on the RiverPark campus in downtown. The search and screening committee received feedback from the public through 325 online surveys.

Tim Mescon, who announced his departure seven months ago, was CSU president for six years when he retired Dec. 31 to move to Amsterdam and become senior vice president and chief officer for Europe, the Middle East and Africa with the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International.

The previous presidents for CSU, which began as Columbus College, are Thomas Whitley (1958-79), Francis Brooke (1980-87) and Frank Brown (1988-2008).

Tom Hackett, the CSU provost and vice president for academic affairs, has been serving as interim president.

The Special Regents’ Search Committee comprises seven regents:

Chairman C. Thomas Hopkins Jr., an orthopedic surgeon in Griffin.

Donald Leebern Jr., a Columbus native and chairman of McDonough-based Georgia Crown Distributing Co. He chaired the search committee when Mescon, then dean of the business college at Kennesaw State University, was hired as CSU president in June 2008.

Neil L. Pruitt Jr., chairman and CEO of PruittHealth Inc. in Norcross. He was added to the committee in January, when he became Board of Regents chairman.

Sachin Shailendra, president of SG Contracting in Atlanta.

Kessel Stelling Jr., president and CEO of Columbus-based Synovus Financial Corp.

Larry Walker, former Majority Leader of the Georgia House of Representatives, now an attorney with Walker, Hulbert Gray & Byrd in Perry.

Philip A. Wilheit Sr., president of Wilheit Packaging and Marketing Images in Gainesville.

The CSU Presidential Search and Screen Committee has 17 members:

* Chairman John Finley, CSU associate professor of business administration and the executive officer of the faculty senate.

* Kevin Burgess, CSU associate professor of biology.

* Clarence "Earl" Coleman, CSU professor of music.

* Courtney George, CSU assistant professor of English.

* Tim Howard, CSU professor of mathematics.

* Stuart Rayfield, CSU associate professor and director of the Servant Leadership Program.

* Michael Richardson, CSU professor and director of the education doctorate program.

* Ekaterina Strekalova, CSU assistant professor of early childhood education.

* Aimee Vael, CSU associate professor of nursing.

* Amber Dees, assistant director of CSU’s public administration program and president of the staff council.

* Rachel Green, president of the CSU Student Government Association.

* Richard Holmes, CSU Foundation Board of Trustees member.

* Nancy Buntin, CSU Foundation Board of Trustees member.

* John Lee, an otolaryngologist in Columbus.

* Tony Link, chairman of the CSU Foundation Board of Trustees.

* Marc Olivié, president and CEO of W.C. Bradley Co., and CSU Foundation Board of Trustees member.

* Jimmy Yancey, CSU Foundation Board of Trustees member.

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