George Cooper may not be on his way out yet.
The Presidential Search Committee is close to determining whether to recommend extending the King’s interim president’s term by two or three years.
“He’s halfway through his term, and this is the point at which a full-blown presidential search was going to take place,” says Cheryl Bell, staff representative and co-chair of the committee. “But I think that there’s just been a general feeling throughout the community for extending his term.”
The new term would continue Cooper’s interim presidency and end either June 30, 2016, or June 30, 2017, depending on the final decision of the Board of Governors.
The Board suggested the move in response to positive feedback about Cooper since he took the position this time last year, Board chair John Hamm says. Cooper was to complete the term begun by former president Anne Leavitt, who resigned last June.
“It would be nice to see him complete many of the things that he started,” Bell says.
Chief among these “things,” says Bell, is the school’s strategic plan (PDF), which Cooper initiated late last year to determine the overall direction King’s will take in the next decade.
“Having completed this kind of visioning phase, the next step will be to start implementing some projects and some actions to carry out the elements of the plan,” says Anna Dubinski, the committee’s student representative and co-chair.
Other factors in extending Cooper’s term include the swift changes made in administration, such as the termination of former bursar Gerry Smith’s contract and his subsequent replacement by both bursar Jim Fitzpatrick and director of facilities Alexander Doyle, as well as his aggressive approach to fundraising.
As an example, Dubinski says Cooper recently stated “enough money for the Pit has come in” to begin construction over the summer.
The committee was directed to canvas students for their opinion, and have met with students to discuss the possible extension on June 6 and Monday. It will make a recommendation about extending Cooper’s term at the Board’s next meeting on June 20, having taken the community feedback into account.
Bell said before Monday’s consultations that feedback is “leaning toward the positive.”
“I think he’s done a great job since he took over,” says Nick Stark, last year’s King’s Students’ Union (KSU) president.
“We’ve already seen a lot of changes for the better,” he says.
Dubinski says the committee’s recommendation could lead to an immediate decision or extend the process.
“We have to move fairly quickly, but there’s no exact date.”