After weeks of confidentiality, the Board of Governors of the CSU System has named two finalists for the next president of CSU – both of whom are candidates for the same job at other universities.
Michael Martin of the University of Florida and Larry Penley of Arizona State University have been identified as the two finalists. Martin is the vice president for agriculture and natural resources at UF. Penley is the dean of the business school at ASU.
Reginald Washington, president of the Board of Governors, said the board had many applicants who were qualified but it was important for the board to select candidates who were best fit for the position.
“The process, when you sit back and reflect, went as it should,” Washington said. “The board came in and decided on the most qualified and best-fit candidates.”
Martin and Penley are both considered for presidential positions at other universities. Penley is being considered as a presidential candidate at the University of New Mexico and Martin is a presidential candidate at UF.
Despite this, Washington said he feels that if the job were offered to either candidate they would accept it.
“I am confident (that they would accept) after having conversations with both of them,” Washington said.
If the chosen candidate turned down the offer, Washington said the board would reconvene.
“The board would discuss the situation…we wouldn’t start from scratch…we would keep all options opened,” he said.
The board met yesterday in Denver in an executive session to meet with the five final candidates. Until the announcement of Martin and Penley, the selection process and all information about candidates was kept secret, including Marc Holtzman, who was endorsed by Gov. Bill Owens for the position.
The Denver Post reported that the board brought in Holtzman to his interview in a van marked “Biotech Environmental Services” then brought him up through a hotel kitchen entrance.
Washington assured that all five candidates were brought in with equal secrecy.
Washington justified the process to protect the dignity of the candidates and Washington did not want to place the candidates’ current jobs in jeopardy.
“It serves no purpose (announcing the names beforehand)…we wanted to respect everyone’s privacy,” he said.
The board made their decision after receiving recommendations from a presidential advisory board that was set up after current CSU President Al Yates announced his intent to retire in October. The future president will take office July 1.
“The quality of these two finalists speaks to the overall quality of the pool of applicants for this position,” Washington said in a press release. “As a board, we can be pleased with the integrity of this process and with the outcome. These are two candidates with the experience, vision and characters that this position demands.”
Washington said the board discussed having more than two finalists, but the votes bottled up when it came to Martin and Penley.
Dave Bower, president of the Associated Students of CSU, gave his thoughts on the two candidates.
“As little time as the president of the university gets to spend with students, their presence and vision still affects students,” Bower said. He feels the students’ opportunity to give their input is “exceptional.”
Bower sits on the board as a student representative, a non-voting position.
C. Miller, a CSU faculty representative on the board, did not have a comment about the candidates but said he was surprised with the timing of the releasing of the names.
Penley said he is excited and honored to be considered.
“CSU is a wonderful university and I look forward to be a part of it,” Penley said. “It won’t be an easy time to be president,” he added, commenting on CSU’s budget crisis. “CSU will have to be strategic in the opportunities it chooses.”
Penley offered a strategy for dealing with the budget crisis.
“CSU needs to choose what it could absolutely be the best at and what drives the economic engine. Then it needs to intersect the two,” he said.
Penley met with the advisory committee a few weeks ago and met with the Board of Governors Monday in Denver.
“Yes I could,” Penley said, when asked if he could be a Rams fan after being a Sun Devils fan, adding he thinks CSU has a great athletics program.
The board will invite both candidates to CSU for a campus tour, to be conducted in the next two and a half weeks, according to Washington.
“We will get feedback from people who had a chance to meet the two candidates,” Washington said.
Penley said he looks forward with meeting people on campus.
“I expect to get a better understanding of the hopes and dreams of the faculty, staff and students and get a sense of (where) people see an opportunity to make CSU a better university,” he said, adding that replacing Yates, who is retiring as president in his 13th year, will be a big challenge.
Both candidates will have one more interview with the board. Washington said he hopes a candidate will be chosen before students leave for the summer.
Martin was traveling and could not be reached for this story, but said in a press release, “It is truly an honor to be considered for this position. Colorado State is a very good institution with tremendous potential to be even better.
“I’ve been very impressed with the enthusiasm and energy of the people that I have met from the institution,” he added. “Colorado State is a university that I respect and its role as a land-grant institution is something that I value.”
Collegian Campus Editor Colleen Buhrer contributed to this story.