The Associated Press
FRANKFORT - A panel working on selecting the next leader of the state Council on Postsecondary Education will interview candidates for the post this weekend.
Walter Baker, a council member and chairman of the screening committee, said the council's presidential screening committee planned to interview about 10 candidates for its presidency Sunday and Monday.
The council was created under the state's 1997 higher education reform law to better coordinate state higher education policy.
The council is seeking a president after refusing in June to renew the contract of Gordon Davies, who was hired in 1998 as its first president.
Mr. Baker said there are five "very, very strong candidates with the qualifications that we want for the next president."
"Until we actually meet with the candidates, none of us actually knows how that chemistry will work, and that will be a key component, especially with the situation Kentucky now finds itself in," Mr. Baker said.
Mr. Baker wouldn't release the names of the candidates to be interviewed. But Jim Ramsey, Gov. Paul Patton's budget director and the acting president of the University of Louisville, acknowledged he had been asked to interview.
"I think the CPE job is a very important job," Mr. Ramsey said, "and I had expressed an interest."
Mr. Davies was charged with implementing the reform law, which was designed to increase the number of students attending Kentucky colleges, improve the quality of the state's eight public universities, and minimize the turf battles among the institutions.
The law gives the council authority to recommend to the governor how much money each of the eight universities gets each year and to encourage them to make changes to boost enrollment and student retention rates.
Mr. Davies lost the support of Mr. Patton and the council earlier this year after several university presidents worked with legislators from their districts to increase their budgets in legislation that never ultimately became law. Mr. Davies argued against the action of the universities and the legislators.
The council, at Mr. Patton's urging, let Mr. Davies' contract expire June 15 without renewing it.
Some of those to be interviewed have been university presidents, Mr. Baker said, while others have run state systems of higher education. He said he could not recall whether any of them came from outside higher education, but he emphasized that the council president must have the respect of the state's university presidents, and that means having some background in higher education.
"My hope is we'll be able to attract someone with demonstrable success at the system level," said Jim Votruba, president of Northern Kentucky University. "This is not the time for on-the-job training."
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