USF narrows provost search

When former Provost Renu Khator left USF to become president at University of Houston, Provost Ralph Wilcox was appointed for the remainder of Khator’s term. That term has ended, and USF is looking for someone to fill the position again.

Rhonda Hendrix, a special assistant in the Office of Research and Innovation, which is conducting the search, said the office has received 50 applications.

Wilcox, who was vice provost under Khator starting in 2003, has been provost for about 18 months and applied for the position.

“It’s challenging, like anything else in these economic times, but I can’t think of anything else or any other university that is really positioned to excel in the way that USF is,” Wilcox said. “It’s an exciting place. It’s a great job.”

Karen Holbrook, vice president of the Office of Research, said it would not be fair to consider Wilcox as a favorite among the applicants.

“I can tell you of course we all know Wilcox, and it’s been a pleasure to work with him at this University,” she said.

The office chose eight applicants to interview over the phone and will soon narrow the list again, Holbrook said.

“We want somebody who has had significant leadership ability, because this is such an important position at such a high level,” she said. “We want someone to have had a fairly significant amount of administrative experience, like having been a dean somewhere.”

Holbrook said the office is looking for someone who has also handled budgets.

From the eight phone interviewees, some will be chosen for in-person interviews, Holbrook said. The office has not made the selections yet because it is in the process of receiving references. Once references are received, the office will narrow the list again and begin interviews, which are planned to start in August.

USF advertised the position in electronic media including the Chronicle of Higher Education, a popular publication geared toward news at universities and colleges.

“(We chose electronic advertisements) so that we could reach as diverse of an audience that we could possibly reach and broadly as we could get it,” Holbrook said.

The University also bought an advertisement in the Chronicle’s print edition and sent letters to approximately 200 university presidents around the country asking for nominations.

The Office of Research has been reviewing applications since April 30. Applicants are from a variety of business corporations and universities including the University of Florida, Purdue University, Clemson University and Louisiana State University.

USF President Judy Genshaft can choose the length of a provost’s term, which typically spans from three to five years, Holbrook said.

“We have had outstanding candidates for the position, and it’s really been a pleasure to share ideas with a variety of people who come from very good universities and hold very responsible jobs right now,” she said.