The Final Four

Semifinalists for McNeese presidency chosen



BATON ROUGE — A state search committee plans to interview four semifinalists for the McNeese presidency — one local and three out-oftown candidates — in Lake Charles next week.

    The University of Louisiana System committee selected the four semifinalists from a group of 20 candidates after meeting in closed-door executive session for nearly two hours Thursday.

    The four chosen for interviews:

Jeanne Daboval, McNeese provost and vice president of academic affairs. Daboval earned a doctorate in business administration from Nova Southeastern University. Linda Rinker, provost and vice president of academic affairs at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, Conn. Rinker earned a doctorate in education at Columbia University. David Svaldi, president of Adams State College in Alamosa, Colo. Svaldi earned a doctorate from Northwestern University. Philip Williams, president of the University of Montevallo in Montevallo, Ala. Williams earned a doctorate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a law degree from Columbia University.

    The committee must find a replacement for retiring President Robert Hebert, who has said he will step down June 30 after serving 23 years as head of the university.

    Before voting Thursday, the committee cited an 18-point list of “desired presidential qualifications” — including possession of a doctorate, a commitment to athletics, and successful senior experience in an institution of higher education or in other disciplines. Nearly all of the substantive discussion about candidates was done in private, although one local man spoke in favor of a candidate.

    “It was a very thoughtful, thorough and occasionally intense discussion, but that’s the way it should be because this is a very important decision,” said Randy Moffett, ULS president and search committee head.

    Once the committee emerged from executive session, there was no public discussion about the candidates.

    Four different committee members quickly nominated the four candidates without any opposition. Board member Jimmy Long nominated Daboval, the only current McNeese employee selected for an interview.

    After the meeting, Moffett said the committee picked the four candidates it thought were best and gave no special consideration to local applicants. He said input from faculty, staff and the public largely guided their selections.

    If they agree to interviews, the candidates will participate in a full day of meetings, tours and talks at McNeese and around the community. Students, faculty and members of the public will have opportunities to ask candidates questions. The specific interview schedules are expected to be released today once the candidates accept.

    Moffett said the committee will probably convene next Friday to recommend two names to the full Board of Supervisors, which is expected to select the new president later this month. But Moffett said the committee reserves the right to interview more candidates if it is not satisfied with the current group.

    Of the 20 candidates considered Thursday, 17 applied directly to the committee and three were recommended by R.H. Perry & Associates, a private search firm. Candidates could apply to the firm with the understanding that their names wouldn’t be made public unless they were finalists for the post.

    Allen Koenig, a senior partner with the search firm, said the firm reached out to about 1,000 potential candidates in the academic world and received 25 applications. Koenig said he interviewed seven of those and planned to suggest four candidates for the committee’s consideration. One of those, however, recently accepted a presidency at another university, he said.

    The firm’s remaining three recommendations — Rinker, Svaldi and Williams — were all selected for interviews.

    Daboval was the only candidate of the 17 public applicants to land an interview.

    The full resumes and cover letters for the four semifinalists are posted at