Finalists, Open Forums Announced For OU President

Posted on:

< < Back to

University officials announced that the final stages of the search for a new president have begun, and one of the finalists is a fellow OU administrator.

Dr. Pam Benoit, OU Executive Vice President and Provost, is being considered along with three other candidates, all of whom will be available next week during open forums, according to a statement from OU Board of Trustees president David Wolfort.

“Finding our next president is an important decision for our community,” said Wolfort stated in a press release. “The open forums are a vital part of the search process as it allows both the candidates and the university community to interact with one another and determine whether a specific appointment would be a good fit.”

The other finalists listed were Dr. Duane Nellis of Texas Tech University, Dr. Dean Bresciani of North Dakota State University and Dr. Robert Frank of the University of New Mexico.

Frank has been the president of the University of New Mexico since 2012, after serving as Kent State University’s Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs for four years.

He was dean of Clinical and Health Psychology in the College of Public Health and Health Professions for the University of Florida for eight years. While serving in that role, Frank was director of the Florida Center for Medicaid and the Uninsured, which he established in 2000.

Also while serving as dean, Frank was Vice President for Rehabilitation and Behavioral Health at Shands Healthcare System.

He received his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, along with his Masters and Bachelor’s degrees from the University of New Mexico.

Frank threatened to sue the University of Mexico for defamation as the university’s Board of Regents conducted an investigation of alleged claims about Frank’s treatment of workers and spending habits as president, New Mexico media outlet KRQE reported in December. Frank and the university then signed an agreement that Frank would leave office early and not seek a new contract when it expired. Frank decided not to sue the university.

Nellis was the president of Texas Tech until January 2016, and served as president of the University of Idaho from 2009 until 2013, provost and senior vice president and held various other positions at Kansas State University and served as a dean of the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences at West Virginia University from 1997 to 2004, according to curriculum vitae provided by the presidential search committee.

At Texas Tech, Nellis was also a professor of Leadership and Strategic Initiatives. He has a Ph.D and Masters in Geography from Oregon State University and a Bachelor’s in Earth Sciences and Geography from Montana State University.

In the late 1970s, Nellis was project leader for a  land use survey of a proposed Northern Tier Pipeline route to transport crude oil in the United States.

He resigned from Texas Tech while seeking the presidency position at the University of Wyoming, and said he experience “a little bit of tension” in adapting to the heirarchy at Texas Tech, according to media outlets who covered his candidacy at the University of Wyoming.

Bresciani has been the president of North Dakota State University and adjunct full professor in the College of Human Development and Education since 2010.

Before his presidency, he served as Vice President for Student Affairs at Texas A&M University for four years, Interim Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.

In June 2016, the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education declined to extend Bresciani’s contract because of complaints about communication and decision-making skills, according to the Herald Courier in Bristol, N.D. He was given six months to improve and an extension was approved in November.

Bresciani as a Ph.D. in High Education-Finance with a minor in Economics from the University of Arizona, a Masters in College Student Personnel from Bowling Green State University and a Bachelor’s in Sociology from Humboldt State University.

Benoit has served as provost and executive vice president since 2009, after serving as Vice Provost of Advanced Studies and Dean of the Graduate School for the University of Missouri from 2005 until 2009.

She also served as chair of the Department of Communication for the University of Missouri for four years.

Benoit has a Ph.D. in Communication from Wayne State University, a Masters in Communication from Central Michigan University and a Bachelor’s in Speech/English from Ball State University.

While provost at OU, she applied for the top jobs at the University of Colorado and Southern Illinois University Carbondale. She was the sole candidate for the Colorado position before the university decided to resume the search for another candidate. She was a finalist for the Southern Illinois job, but was not offered the position. She was also a finalist for the chancellorship at University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, but withdrew from consideration for unknown reasons.

The public forums will begin next Jan 10 from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. as Nellis meets with the university community.

Bresciani will meet with the public on Thursday at 4:30 p.m. and Benoit will be available on Jan. 17 at 4:30 p.m.

All forums will be at the Baker University Center Ballroom.