Twenty days after Institute President Wayne Clough announced that he will be stepping down from his position after holding it for 14 years, the Board of Regents has named Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Gary Schuster as the Interim President. The decision will be effective July 1 following Clough’s official last day at Tech.
“We entertained a number of names and evaluated a group of highly qualified individuals for this critical interim presidency. It became clear to us that Gary Schuster was the outstanding choice,” said Erroll Davis, Chancellor of the University System of Georgia (USG), in an e-mail sent to students last week.
Susan Herbst, executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer for USG, explained that it is very common for the provost of the university to be named as interim president following the departure of a president.
“When a president is departing or retiring oftentimes the provost is looked to because they have extensive experience across all the different parts of the university… They tend to have a lot of academic responsibility but they also have a responsibility for finance and budget and for strategic planning for the future,” Herbst said.
Schuster came to Tech in 1994 as dean of the College of Sciences after 20 years in the chemistry department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He holds a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Rochester and is a renowned scholar with a long list of published articles and discoveries in the sciences.
Schuster will serve as interim president until a search committee, which will be formed by the Board of Regents, chooses a candidate.
“I expect the university will move forward on all the plans that are in place while Dr. Schuster is the interim president, and then when a new president comes they will probably keep a lot of things going…and will also want to forge their own course and bring new ideas with him or her to the university,” Herbst said.
The search committee will be comprised of faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends of the Institute. Herbst expects for it to be formed during the late summer or early fall months. She predicts that the decision should be announced sometime during the 2008-2009 academic year.
“A lot of it depends on how quickly we can get the pool together and how quickly they can move. It’s a very high priority search and we’d like to get a new president as soon as we can. We need to follow our procedures and make sure we have a lot of participation of the campus,” Herbst said.
“It’s a very, very exciting time for the university. President Clough has really made the university an international academic gem and the reason we’re going to find a great president and move the university ahead even further is that he built such a wonderful foundation. This is a very attractive job for the very best presidential candidate of the country,” Herbst said.
Schuster could not be reached for comment but in an e-mail sent to the campus community last Friday, he said, “I am honored to serve in this capacity. As interim president, I will be committed to maintaining the course we have set together under President Clough’s extraordinary leadership.”
The last time Tech had to replace a president was in 1994, when Patrick Crecine submitted a letter of resignation in December of 1993 after six years on the job. Crecine’s resignation was also effective at the end of June, and in July the Board of Regents chose Clough, then the provost of the University of Washington, out of three finalists.