YSU trustees narrow presidential list to six

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By Denise Dick



Three traditional and three nontraditional candidates make up the list of six applicants Youngstown State University trustees will interview for the university presidency.

Meanwhile, the university learned a current dean is a finalist for a job at another university.

Besides Jim Tressel, former YSU and Ohio State head football coach, the other two nontraditional candidates are D. Marshall Porterfield, director of Space Life and Physical Sciences Division Human Exploration Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters; and Steven M. Rothstein of Watertown, Mass., president of Perkins School for the Blind.

Tressel, who also is a finalist for the presidency at the University of Akron, has worked as that university’s executive vice president for student success since 2012.

The traditional candidates, or those with provost or university presidential experience, are Gayle L. Ormiston, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost at Marshall University in Huntington, W.Va; Mary Cullinan, president and English professor, Southern Oregon University; and Gary L. Miller, chancellor, University of North Carolina-Wilmington.

Dr. Sudershan Garg, chairman of the YSU board, said the trustees included nontraditional candidates during the last presidential search as well.

“All the people have good backgrounds and good, at least initial, references, and their work stands out in the university they’re serving,” Garg said.

Cullinan earned both her doctorate and master’s in English literature at the University of Wisconsin and her bachelor’s in honors English from the University of Pennsylvania.

Tressel earned his master’s in education at the University of Akron and bachelor’s in education at Baldwin Wallace College.

Ormiston earned his doctorate in philosophy from Purdue University and master’s and bachelor’s in philosophy from Kent State University. He was a finalist earlier this year for the presidency at Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan.

Rothstein earned his master’s of business administration from Northeastern University and bachelor’s from Williams College.

Miller earned his doctorate in biological sciences from Mississippi State University and master’s and bachelor’s in biology from the College of William and Mary.

Porterfield, who was the founding director of the Physiology Sensing Facility at Purdue University, where he also worked as a professor, earned his doctorate from Louisiana State University and bachelor’s in cell biology from the University of South Alabama.

Trustees will interview the six via Skype on Saturday, after which they will narrow the list to three finalists who will come to campus to meet with campus and community groups.

Tressel is scheduled to visit the University of Akron on Thursday, the last day of finalist visits there.

Garg said Tressel’s status in the UA presidential search won’t affect YSU’s timeline. If Tressel is offered the UA position before YSU completes its process, YSU would contact him to determine if he’s still interested in the YSU presidency, Garg said.

“We’re already on a very tight schedule,” he said. “We can’t work faster.”

Shearle Furnish, founding dean of YSU’s College of Liberal Arts and Social Science, is one of three finalists to become dean of the new University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s College of Arts, Letters and Sciences, according to that university’s website. Furnish’s campus interviews are scheduled for May 8 and May 9.

He’s been at YSU for nine years and earlier this month said he also has applied to be provost and vice president for academic affairs at YSU.

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