Three Rivers Community College president search runs into setback

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. -- The search for a president at Three Rivers Community College has proved fruitless after both out-of-state candidates unexpectedly dropped out of the running and the trustees voted against hiring the third finalist, who is already an administrator at the college.

After the announcement at Thursday night's meeting, the trustees said they intend to start over and will organize another search.

In the meantime, Joe Rozman accepted the president's position until June 30.

"In total confidence and with full authority, [Rozman] is the president of the college," said trustee Randy Winston. "We [officially] took away his interim title."

Earlier that afternoon, the board's top choice, Dr. Devin Stephenson of Alabama, stated in an e-mail that he has taken a job elsewhere.

Stephenson wrote: "[My wife] Judy and I appreciate the confidence that [chairman Steve] Cookson and the board placed in me as a potential candidate to lead the college; however, as of yesterday, another opportunity came for us and we believe it to be the appropriate choice at this time."

The notification came a week after Dr. Susan Karr of Arkansas withdrew her candidacy, citing family health issues. That left the board with one candidate -- Dr. Larry Kimbrow, executive vice president and vice president for academic affairs at Three Rivers.

Following executive session, board vice chair Bill Hollida moved to hire Kimbrow as president. The motion died when none of the other trustees offered to second it.

Board treasurer Wilbur Thornton then moved to retain Rozman at a prorated $120,000 annual salary. Board secretary Marion Tibbs seconded the motion and the trustees unanimously approved.

Cookson announced that a second search will be conducted in the near future and the details would be worked out as early as the Oct. 16 board meeting.

"Events unfolded kind of rapidly and now we're going back to square one," said Cookson. "It is a difficult task filling a leadership position ¿ and we followed the process through to its conclusion."

Winston added, "it is unfortunate things have unfolded as they have, but it does not lessen the time and effort put in by the search committee."

The 16-person presidential search committee, comprised of community leaders representative of the college's four-county taxing district, spent about two months narrowing 53 hopefuls down to the three applicants they thought most qualified.

After yesterday's meeting, Rozman, who turns 61 next week, revealed that he tentatively plans to retire once a new president takes his place.

"I know there is a good man or woman out there who will serve as a good president to lead this college into the future," said Rozman. "I will hang around as long as the board needs me to."

Besides overseeing the day-to-day operation of the college, his first item of business, he explained, will be to reassign responsibilities so someone can take over his duties as vice president for student affairs and information technology. Then he will begin to work with the board on developing a new strategic plan.

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