Upon the retirement of John Burns, Ph.D., the Texas Tech University College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources (CASNR) faced the task of selecting a new dean during the Spring 2012 semester. In order to find a permanent dean, a selection committee is formed by the Office of the Provost. The committee was assembled with help from department chairs within CASNR. Department chairs, faculty members, students, and several other individuals affiliated with Texas Tech served on the committee.
Dr. Steve Fraze, Chair of the Department of Agricultural Education and Communications, served on the committee and also helped with its assembly.
"There were several Texas Tech administration people on the committee," Fraze said, "and some key outside individuals that were either alumni or connected to the college such as the director of the ag experiment station. So there was a group of about 20 people on the search committee."
The committee members from outside the college were recommended by various CASNR faculty and department members, and ultimately selected by the university provost, Dr. Bob Smith.
After the committee was formed, the dean selection process began. The university listed the opening for a dean in several publications available to the public, such as The Chronicle of Higher Education. Letters were also sent to other agricultural colleges and land-grant universities that had someone qualified for the position. All applications that were received for the position was screened by the selection committee.
Online interviews using Skype were set up with the most qualified applicants. Four applicants were selected to move forward to the online interviews. These four individuals were invited to campus for personal meetings, but one withdrew his application. The three remaining candidates visited campus for a four-day interview process. During this process, the candidates interviewed with the search committee and also met with faculty and students.
Skylar Sowder met the candidates by serving on a student panel and providing feedback to the selection committee.
"We were able to make our recommendations on whom we liked and submit that to the committee," Sowder said, "so that they would have a better picture of what the candidates were like and how receptive the students were to the candidates."
Although the selection committee was responsible for screening applicants and interviewing candidates, it did not bear the responsibility of making the final decision. The committee simply sent names forward to the Office of the Provost allowing Smith to make the decision. All three candidates who visited campus were recommended to the provost for consideration.
"Our job was to send names forward to the provost that we deemed acceptable for the position; both qualified and acceptable," Fraze said. "It is his responsibility, then, to make the final selection."