The week of March 23 concluded the one-month recruitment stage for presidential candidates at Newman University. Prior to this stage, the presidential search committee had conducted meetings with staff, faculty, students and Newman community members to better understand key attributes to look for in the university’s next leader.
Committee members continue to individually evaluate candidates as they receive application submissions. The committee had planned to meet during the first week of April to choose semi-finalists for the position. Due to recent restrictions involving COVID-19 concerns, however, this meeting will take place virtually.
The head of the presidential search committee, Jason Searl, said, “This meeting would, of course, be better suited for the committee to meet at Newman. But the restrictions and social distancing … make it so that we must do this via a web-based format.”
Searl mentioned their timeline has not yet changed and plans to move forward with semi-finalist interviews in April will continue. Though not ideal, candidates will meet with the committee virtually rather than face-to-face.
There is uncertainty in the length and intensity of the current nationwide COVID-19 situation, which presents many challenges for the committee. Not only will initial interviews be affected, but typically, candidates are brought to campus for interviews and meetings with the Newman community. This may not be possible in the current climate.
“This current environment offers plenty of challenges to that process. Candidates are interviewing us, as a community, and that is difficult to do without actually being here. We have some time to solve some of these issues, and it is possible that we could get to a point where restrictions are lifted. That said, we will not do anything that would jeopardize the health and safety of anyone involved in the search or the candidates,” said Searl.
Searl remains hopeful that the committee and Newman University will be able to tackle these changes together.
“I would ask all of us to constantly focus on what it is that we can learn about a situation, rather than just the challenges. That’s who we are as a university, people of faith who are committed to the pursuit of truth and service to those most in need.
“None of us asked for the trials that we are enduring now, nor did we seek the restrictions that came along with this — but for those who are part of our university and those who make it so special, have faith that there is always a path forward. The Lord never shuts a door without opening another for you.”