Edison narrows list of presidential candidates

Edison narrows list of presidential candidates

By Matt Grant. CREATED May 8, 2012

FORT MYERS - Edison State College is one step closer to picking its next president.

The presidential search committee, tasked with finding a replacement for fired president Dr. Ken walker, has narrowed the list of candidates from 40 down to nine.

But some students, who have the most at stake, could care less.

"Does it interest you at all who they're going to get to replace Dr Walker ?," asked Fox 4 reporter Matt Grant.

"No not at all," a student replied.

"I just know he's gone or he's leaving or whatnot," another student said about Walker's firing.

On Tuesday, the 13-member search committee made up of faculty, staff, community leaders and trustees, narrowed the list of candidates from 40 down to nine.

The finalists are made up of seven men and two women.

"We really need to have some trust restored at the college," said Edison humanities chair Russell Swanson.

Swanson attended the meeting and hopes this will be the first step in fixing the problems started under Walker. 

"What qualities would you like to see in the next president?," asked Grant.

"What jumps to mind for me would obviously be integrity," said Swanson. "Looking out for the best interest of the college as a whole."

Swanson said the list of candidates was "really good" and said a few would be "great fits" for the college.

He says the next president will need to acknowledge Edison's troubles and fix the lingering damage.

"A lot of folks talk about the best way forward," said Swanson. "I think we have to address the things that have happened."

And it looks like that will be addressed.

One of the questions the finalists could have to answer, according to a draft of 12 questions released by the college, asks: "Based on your research of what you know of Edison State College what...will be the most difficult challenges...and how would you approach those challenges?"

But the biggest challenge may be winning over skeptical students and staff.

"I'd like to see someone honest," one student said. "Honesty."

"You feel that was lacking before?," asked Grant.

"I believe so yeah," he said.

The finalists will be brought in for face-to-face interviews in the coming weeks. Those interviews will be open to the public.

The committee will then select the top three to five to present to the board of trustees.

The college hopes to have a president in place by August.

The finalists

  • Eric McKeithan - President, Cape Fear Community College
  • Jeff Allbritten - President, Macon State College
  • Dennis Harkins - President, Orange Coast College
  • Joseph Sarnovsky - Executive VP/CFO, Seminole State College of Florida
  • Eugene Giovannini - President, Maricopa County Community College District - Gateway Community College
  • Larry Whitworth - Past president, Washtenaw Community College (1998-2011)
  • Allen Witt - Campus President, Southshore Campus - Hillsborough Community College
  • Jean Wihbey - Provost, Palm Beach State College
  • Peggy Kennedy - Interim President/CEO, Minnesota State Community & Technical College (2011-2012)

Follow the presidential search here

Matt Grant