Ball State down to five presidential finalists

The head of Ball State University's presidential search committee said it plans to interview five finalists seeking to become the school's new leader.

The new president will replace Jo Ann Gora, who plans to retire in June after 10 years leading the 18,000-student university in Muncie.

Those finalists are being invited for personal interviews with the search committee this month, said Wayne Estopinal, a Ball State Board of Trustees member who is chairman of the committee.

The names of the finalists, which are being kept confidential during the search, come from among 22 applicants who were first reviewed by an executive search firm, Estopinal told The Star Press of Muncie.

"There are a couple of our finalists who have private sector experience, but all of them are definitely in academia now," he said. "But we don't have any sitting CEOs and we don't have anyone of the nature of a former political figure."

The committee intends to recommend two or three finalists to the Board of Trustees, which will conduct its own interviews before voting on a selection.

Jerry Baker, who is Ball State's search consultant, was also involved in the search that led to Gora's hiring in 2004.

"It is very interesting that Ball State is now seen as much more than a regional university," Baker said. "This is quite different from when I conducted the search that led to Dr. Gora's appointment 10 years ago. A large number of individuals with whom I spoke mentioned how Ball State is now viewed as a much more serious player in the academic community."

Estopinal, who is president of a Jeffersonville architecture firm, said it is a "very strong" group of candidates.

Ball State's 16-member search committee includes four other trustees and several university administrators and faculty members.

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