Shepherd Searches for New VPAA

Shepherd University has been conducting an ongoing search for a new vice president of academic affairs since the resignation of Dr. Richard Helldobler last semester.

The search, which began this past summer, was conducted by a committee headed by Dr. Dow Benedict, dean for the school of arts and humanities. The committee began by meeting with a search consultant who aided in the formulation of the job announcement used to attract applicants for the open position, according to Benedict.

Benedict said, “Once the faculty returned in August, we were able to conduct elections for search committee members to represent the four academic schools, the faculty senate, the department chairs, and other campus groups. Once we had the full committee in place, we began to examine the materials submitted by the applicants.”

Benedict added that the committee identified the top eight candidates, who were then interviewed by the entire committee at an off-campus site. From those eight candidates, the committee narrowed down the choices to three to be interviewed the week of Nov. 26.

An extensive search has been done to look for suitable candidates. The committee hired an independent search firm to conduct a national search, an approach aimed to find the best candidates nation-wide, according to Benedict.

Helldobler, the former VPAA, could not be reached for comment pertaining to why he stepped down. At the conclusion of last semester, he sent out a memo stating his personal choice to resign. There has been no concrete explanation from faculty or search committee members regarding his decision.

Dr. Diane Melby was appointed the interim VPAA until the search for Helldobler’s replacement is completed. She has taken on the same roles that the full-time VPAA would and has enjoyed the position.

Melby said, “I like the challenge it brings, and I like working with the students and faculty in a different capacity.”

She has not encountered any problems during her time as VP, aside from some small institutional or budgetary concerns.

She has not heard anything regarding Helldobler’s decision to resign. She does, however, get the impression that he is happy. She feels that he worked hard during his time as VPAA.

Timothy Leonard, the student representative on the search committee, feels that Melby is doing an excellent job as interim.

Leonard said, “I think she is doing a great job. I currently sit on the Strategic Planning Committee with her, and from this, she has articulated a clear mission about the ways in which her and the president of the university can move the school in a positive direction.”

Leonard also thinks the search for Helldobler’s replacement has gone very well.

The search committee looks to conclude its process when it interviews the final three candidates.

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