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USF resumes search for vice president of Research and Innovation

Candidates for vice president of Research and Innovation can either apply or be nominated for the position until Sept. 30, and a final decision is expected to be made by the end of October. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE/USF

Applications and nominations for the vice president for Research and Innovation opened Sept. 17 after the search was halted when former President Steven Currall resigned and left uncertainty as to who would work alongside the next elected vice president.

The application period ends Sept. 30 and the search committee will review the candidates Oct. 1-12 before submitting a list of finalists to USF Interim President Rhea Law. She will then conduct interviews with three to five applicants. Her final decision is expected by Oct. 30.

Although this might seem like a short timeline to fill such an important position, Karen Holbrook, regional chancellor at the Sarasota-Manatee campus and search committee member, said the search being internal, or USF employees only, facilitates the process.

As the Search Advisory Committee is composed of USF professors, deans, the chief compliance officer and the vice provost, among others, Holbrook said they will probably be acquainted with the candidates.

“The internal community knows the internal community,” she said. “The hardest part is going to be on the candidates, because they’ve got their lives in order right now. And if they suddenly become a vice president within a month, or six weeks, that’s going to change their life very fast.”

A Search Advisory Committee announced its 21 members Sept. 10 to lead the search after USF’s former Senior Vice President for Research and Innovation Paul Sanberg stepped down from his position Jan. 18. Keith Anderson has been serving as interim vice president since then.

Law decided to make the search internal since the search for president is ongoing and external candidates would want to know who they will be working with. Holbrook said contenders will most likely be faculty members who have received grants and are known for their research.

“We have people here as talented or more talented than anybody around the nation,” Holbrook said. “So there’s no question we have ideal candidates here. That’s a good thing.”

The elected vice president will serve for two years with a possibility for renewal. The official description of the role states the individual will be a “committed servant [and] leader” who supports faculty research and scholarship. The vice president of research holds a “huge role” in the university as they serve as the leader of the research of enterprise, according to Holbrook.

“I think other people will agree with me, this is one of the most important positions in the university for building our reputation and giving us a presence in the academic community,” Holbrook said. “It makes a huge difference to us.”

Responsibilities of the vice president of research include advocating for USF’s research with internal and external agencies as well as creating an environment that attracts external funding for research. The vice president must also understand the research process and care about the success of faculty members in their projects, Holbrook said.

“Customer focus is probably the most important thing that we’ve said. [They need to be] somebody who has a lot of experience already in administration and working in the administrative realm,” she said. “We want somebody to be creative, and we want them to be a respected leader and a university citizen.”

When Currall was president, there was an ongoing search with Korn Ferry, a global organizational consulting firm, to fill the vice president of research position. Currall had even interviewed some candidates already, according to Holbrook. However, once he resigned, the candidates pulled out because they didn’t know who would lead the institution.

Holbrook said as USF Research and Innovation handles large amounts of money, exceeding $500 million, and has activities going on year-round, it was important to restart the search. Even if it will be done in a short period of time, she is optimistic the committee will find a good candidate to be the next vice president.

“I think the search will go very well once we get moving,” Holbrook said. “Once we get candidates, I think there’ll be a lot of unanimity on the candidate choice, [and] we will have a lot of really good people that we’ll be able to consider. I’m very excited about it.”