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Search begins for next NIU president

DeKALB – The 28 men and women in charge of finding Northern Illinois University’s next president can agree on one thing: He or she needs to be a proverbial Superman.

At the presidential search committee’s first meeting Thursday, each member sounded off on what they would like to see in the university’s 12th president. They complimented outgoing president John Peters, but agreed they need someone who can take the whole school “to the next level.”

“I would like for someone to have the courage and vision to recognize this [university] model isn’t working,” accountancy professor Pamela Smith said. “[Someone who is] being open-minded of taking aggressive, successful steps to operate as a public institution with a private mindset.”

While the Board of Trustees will make the final decision about Peters’ replacement, this committee will sift through candidates for the next several months before making their final recommendation.

The board voted to have a new president in place by July 1, 2013.

Parker Executive Search, a global executive search firm, will search for candidates.

During the university’s annual address Oct. 12, Peters announced that he was stepping down June 30, having served 13 years at the university. NIU trustee Robert Boey said Peters will be around for a year to assist with the transition and provide advice to his successor.

Their search committee’s first meeting was a long introductory one, as the group became acquainted with their goals, the rules, and with each other.

NIU’s legal team advised the committee that their activities fall under the rules and provisions of the Open Meetings Act and the Freedom of Information Act.

Some committee members said they wanted to see an academic in the president’s seat, but others expressed interest in having someone who didn’t fit the usual profile.

And while it is not one of their set criteria, a number of committee members made deliberate efforts to recognize that the next university president could be a woman – a first for NIU.

“When you see the right [candidate], you will know,” said Boey, who co-chairs the search committee. “You will have that feeling.”

Boey said he felt this after first meeting Peters.

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