With Lone Star College Chancellor Richard Carpenter planning to step down at the end of the 2013–14 school year, the search is on to find the next chancellor.

The college system appointed a search committee composed of three members of the board of trustees—Robert Adam, Priscilla Kelly and Ron Trowbridge—to develop the position profile and establish the qualifications sought for the next chancellor. In March, the committee selected search firm Gold Hill Associates from a pool of nine firms to assist in the search process.

"The committee went through a series of proposals and selected from a highly competitive field what we believe is the best search firm," Trowbridge said at an April 3 meeting of the board of trustees. "We met [April 3], and I can tell you [they] are hitting on all eight spark plugs."

Between April 1–3, Gold Hill held open forums at each of the six LSCS campuses to gather input from faculty, staff and students, officials said. That input, as well as a series of interviews with the search committee, will be used to narrow down the field of applicants to a group of finalists in May.

Once finalists are selected, they will participate in another series of forums at each campus open to faculty, staff and the public. The committee will eventually recommend a finalist to the board, which will call a special board meeting to announce when a candidate is chosen.

Trowbridge emphasized the committee's willingness to make this process open to everyone at the college, as well as taxpayers and businesses in the area.

"The search committee designed, with input of many people, what we believe are critical qualifications and probing questions for candidates," he said. "I can assure we will pay attention to what the college family says. If you want me to know something, send it to me, and I will read it. It's in everybody's interest that we find the right chancellor."

Several people involved with LSCS—including Joyce Boatright, faculty senate president with Lone Star College–North Harris, and John Burghduff and Elise Sheppard, both members of the American Federation of Teachers—spoke at the meeting, offering opinions on the chancellor search.

Boatright provided a list of qualities compiled by faculty at each campus that the next chancellor should possess, including visibility, transparency, the ability to collaborate with all employees, the drive to provide equity in the support systems at each campus and experience teaching in a multi-college district.

"We would like the committee to give preference to candidates with college teaching experience because we believe strongly that the new chancellor needs to know what it's like to face five classes of underclassmen in an open door institution," Boatright said.

AFT members organized their own survey to determine the important qualities of the next chancellor. It was available online to full-time and part-time faculty, as well as professional and support staff and administrators, and responses are still coming in, AFT representatives said.

Top qualities identified as important by respondents included teaching experience, transparency, a documented record of negotiating fairly and a proven commitment to academic standards. Top issues included increasing the percentage of full-time faculty, balancing centralized and site-based decision making, raising adjunct pay and championing academic freedom.

Burghduff, a member of AFT and department chair of the LSC–CyFair Math Department, requested the search process be overseen by an internal committee with significant representation of faculty and staff.

"No one knows the college better than those who work for it," he said. "The AFT is convinced that this search still can, and must be, inclusive of faculty and staff. The candidate pool must not be restricted to a narrow group known by one company."

Carpenter, who announced his retirement Feb. 7, was awarded the title of Chancellor Emeritus at the April 3 meeting. He first joined LSCS in August 2007 and plans to continue working with the system as a consultant moving forward.

"At the end of this academic year I will mark my 40th year in the education profession, 32 as either a college president or system CEO," Carpenter said in a statement. "While I count every one of these years as a blessing, the time has come for me to enter the next phase of my life."

Although Carpenter has indicated that he will step down at the end of the current school year, a specific date has not been set.