A 12-person committee was formed to search for a qualified individual to fill the vacancy. President Christopher Thomforde asked Jan McDaniel, Vice President for College Relations, last spring to chair it.
The committee hired a firm, Wickenden Associates of Princeton, N.J., to help with the search. This summer, the firm advertised the position nationally, and St. Olaf received over 40 applications. Wickenden Associates helped the college in narrowing the applicants down to 12, and from these, chose five finalists.
The applicant who fills the position will have many responsibilities. First of all, the vice president is a member of the college president's cabinet, or senior leadership team. The person must be able to lead the admissions and financial aid staffs.
"St. Olaf is looking for a person with outstanding leadership skills who can take the admissions process to the next level," McDaniel said.
The Vice President is also in charge of marketing St. Olaf to perspective students all across the country, as well as recruiting these students. College representatives travel around the country presenting informational sessions about the College to high school students. The team also promotes the College through an abundance of other events.
In addition to the 12-person committee, faculty, alumni and regents are offering their opinions, and St. Olaf students have also been encouraged to let their voices be heard.
In an e-mail sent to the student body last week, Dean of Students Greg Kneser informed students of open forums which are being held to offer the public glimpses of the five candidates.
The first forum, which introduced candidate Ken Moyer, took place on Sept. 28, with about 35 people attending the meeting.
The second forum, which took place on Wednesday, Oct. 6, introduced candidate Michael Whiteman from the University of Idaho.
Students are encouraged to attend the four remaining forums, each of which will focus on one remaining candidate.
The forums will take place over the next few weeks, with the last forum being held on Oct. 21. The candidates undergo all-day interviews while on campus, and attend the forum at the end of the day to introduce themselves, present their professional background and qualifications and answer questions from the audience. Although Kneser sent out an e-mail about the forums to students last week, there has been little interest on the part of students so far.
"I know we're looking for a new person and there are forums, but that's about all," Janna Holm, '07 said.
While no St. Olaf students were present at the first forum, McDaniel hopes students will understand the importance of the position and its implications for the future of the college.
"We think it's important for students to have a voice," McDaniel said.