After a week of open forums, the four finalists for Ohio University's next president all presented their qualifications to students, faculty and staff.
The candidates will interview with the Board of Trustees in February, and in March, one of the following individuals could be the university’s next president.
Pam Benoit, OU's executive vice president and provost
The only candidate who has not served as a university president, Benoit brings familiarity to the table, having served as OU’s executive vice president and provost since 2009.
In 2015, Benoit was the sole finalist for the position of chancellor at the University of Colorado Denver but was ultimately turned down when the university’s president determined the search had failed to find a candidate with “vast support.”
During the same year, Benoit was in the running for another chancellor position, this time at the Southern Illinois University Carbondale, but she withdrew her name from the search.
Benoit currently makes $300,000 for the academic year as executive vice president and provost.
Dean Bresciani, North Dakota State University president
During his Jan. 12 forum, Bresciani was unable to avoid questions about an email scandal during which more than 45,000 emails were discovered to have been deleted from his professional inbox on the same day the North Dakota Legislative Council requested emails from the State Board of Higher Education officials.
Bresciani acknowledged the situation during the forum, citing the attorney general’s opinion, released a year later, which said that although the deletion was in violation of open records law, the deletion of the emails was not necessarily intentional.
During his forum, Bresciani discussed diversity and inclusion. He also told the audience he didn’t want to be “critical” of certain topics relating specifically to OU, especially when it comes to subjects such as tenure and faculty research, two subjects that arose on multiple occasions.
His salary for the 2016-17 academic year is $354,568, according to The Dickinson Press.
Robert Frank, former University of New Mexico president
Frank addressed what changes he would make to the university in his first five years if selected as OU’s president.
At his forum on Jan. 13, he announced his four main goals include increasing OU’s retention rate to 85 percent, improving the university’s national rankings, such as the one from U.S. News & World Report, emphasizing the importance of faculty and creating corporate partnerships.
Frank’s last day as president of the University of New Mexico was Dec. 31, after having a disagreement with the Board of Regents. He is currently on paid sabbatical.
Two of the main topics Frank fielded questions about at the forum were diversity and international students. He also described his experiences of working with different groups of minority students at the University of New Mexico.
He helped increase the University of New Mexico’s international enrollment by 21 percent over the 2013-14 and 2014-15 academic years, according to the university’s Board of Regents’ minutes.
Frank’s salary is $350,000 annually, according to the university.
Duane Nellis, former Texas Tech University President
Duane Nellis, who was the first to participate in a forum, stepped down from his position as president and now serves as the university honors professor at Texas Tech.
During his forum, Nellis stressed diversity and transparency as two important aspects of the job.
Nellis first began his career as a geography professor and has since spent nearly 27 years in an administrative capacity within higher education. In 2013, after serving four years as president at the University of Idaho, he was appointed president of Texas Tech University, with a starting salary of $427,000 per year.
Nellis was previously in the running for the presidency at the University of Wyoming, but he was not selected. According to The Texas Tribune, he expressed his frustration with the Texas Tech leadership, describing a “bit of tension” that arose from being in the same office building as the system’s chancellor, Robert Duncan. He left the role of president after serving for almost three years.