Winthrop Universitys next president might have to be one who walks on water, one 1950s Winthrop alumna said on Friday afternoon.
Search consultants helping Winthrop find its 10th president heard from more than 100 people on what they want to see in the schools next leader.
Most people at Fridays hearing said they wanted a personable president and someone who could relate to them a tall order to find a president who enjoys attending student activities, listens closely to faculty and staff and has the political know how to strengthen ties in the local business community and state Legislature.
A wish-list emerged as groups addressed the consultants at the college.
Top on the students priority list: hire a leader focused on bonding with students and supporting their activities outside of class.
Allie Jensen told the search consultants that students want to see their president walking around on campus something they dont see now.
Chris Aubrie, a member of Winthrops student government, said hed like for Winthrops next president to attend the student groups weekly meeting occassionally.
One student said she hoped the search committee wouldnt pick a president accustomed to leading a large university because Winthrops size is what makes it special compared to other big, in-state colleges.
Jan Greenwood, president of the search firm Greenwood/Asher and Associates, said she understood that logic because leading the bigger universities are like running a city.
Some Rock Hill residents said they wanted a politically savvy president and one who could make things happen at the state and local level.
Jason Broadwater, president of downtown Rock Hill internet marketing company Revenflo, said Winthrops continued commitment to development in the citys Old Town and textile corridor areas is crucial.
I hope the new president shares President (Anthony) DiGiorgios vibrant vision, he said.
Lynn Moody, superintendent of Rock Hill school district, said shed like for Winthrop to hire another president who values university students involvement in local public schools.
Collaboration between the university and K-12 schools is important, Moody said, for training the next generation of teachers and providing role models for young students.
Nearly 70 faculty and staff members attended many of them saying Winthrops next president needed to heighten the universitys focus on academics and students.
A president is a president, hes not a governor, said Robert Prickett, Winthrop English professor. Hes not a politican.
Another faculty member told the consultants, Student-centered is not just a motto here its something everyone who works here lives.
Jennifer Disney, political science professor and director of a university office that assists students in landing academic scholarships, said Winthrop has a trend of attracting students from disadvantaged backgrounds and telling them the skys the limit.
The university shouldnt lose focus though, she said, on helping students with the best grades finance their education.
Others echoed Disneys opinion, saying Winthrop hasnt done well recently in recruiting students from middle-class income homes.
Winthrops financial aid director, Michelle Hare, said the university desperately needs more money to grant school-funded, need-based scholarships.
Based on what she heard Friday, Greenwood said its clear that its very much an engaged president were looking for.
A president who wants to stay in his or her office ... will not be acceptable (at Winthrop), Greenwood said.
Hiring a president to take over after DiGiorgios 24th year at Winthrop could mean having a new leader stay for just three to five years, Greenwood said. Nationally, the trend for successors to presidents with that amount of longevity shows that, she said.
The reason for a short stint following a president with two decades in office, she said, is usually because of a schools adjustment period.
New presidents can trip over very basic things like communication preferences between their office and others after so many processes were conducted the same for so long.
A purposeful transition can lessen some of that concern, Greenwood said.
Winthrop plans for a substantial lapover between the outgoing and incoming president by hoping to announce its new leader by April 2013.
Advertisements for Winthrops upcoming vacancy starting appearing in national publications and on websites this month.
Greenwood said she and her colleagues could make as many as 500 phone calls as applications and nominations start to roll in.
The search for a university president is labor intensive, Greenwood said.
Were going to work everyday until you have exactly the right candidate.
Anna Douglas 803-329-4068