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ISU hoping to find President Bowman's replacement by next fall

(MCT) — NORMAL — Dec. 15 is the likely date of a special meeting of the Illinois State University board of trustees to launch the search for a successor to President Al Bowman, who announced his retirement Monday.

Board Chairman Michael McCuskey said many trustees already had planned to be on campus that day for winter commencement. He is asking members to be available for a meeting after the graduation ceremonies.

McCuskey said his goal is to have the new president on the job by next fall.

A search firm will be hired, and the process should be in full swing by late January or early February, he said.

McCuskey emphasized that “all stakeholders will have input” in the process, following ISU’s history of “shared governance.”

“I’ll be looking for somebody who has high energy, a great personality, a love of Illinois State University and its students,” as well as a vision to continue the university’s advancement, McCuskey said.

Bowman said he needs to “take a back seat” in the search for his successor. But his personal opinion is that ISU needs someone with an academic background who buys into the direction in which ISU is heading.

Trustee Bob Dobski said Bowman’s biggest strengths are “his leadership and his communication and just his down-to-earth style of running a university.”

The board will be looking for someone with attributes similar to Bowman’s, Dobski said, citing an ability “to connect” and “to recognize people’s strengths and weaknesses.”

Trustee Betty Kinser, a retired faculty member, has known Bowman almost since he came to ISU in 1978.

While she praised Bowman’s “team,” Kinser also said it would be difficult for someone on campus to step into his shoes because “you’d have to live with the image of ‘That’s not how Al Bowman would do it.’”

She said finding his replacement is “going to take a lot of work and conscientious searching.”

The last time the board sought a new president, it formed an 18-member search committee that included four trustees and eight faculty members as well as staff, administrators, students and alumni.

Academic Senate president Dan Holland, a physics professor, said that with the departure of Bowman, “there will be a certain amount of nervousness on campus because he’s been such a strong, very positive leader.”

However, because Bowman is leaving with ISU in a strong position, “we’ll be very attractive to very good candidates,” he said.

He hopes to see someone who is similar to Bowman in terms of relating to students and “somebody who will understand and work with the culture of Illinois State University” in terms of consulting and building consensus before making major decisions.

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