College of the Ouachitas Names Presidential Finalists

Malvern, AR--College of the Ouachitas (COTO) is one step closer to finding a person to replace Dr. Stephen Schoonmaker as the College’s president. Dr. Schoonmaker served as COTO’s president from 2012 until his resignation effective December 2015, and also Dr. Barry Ballard, Interim-President, who was the College’s president for 11 years prior.  Dr. Ballard has been the CEO and has advised the COTO Presidential Search Committee since January in its work to find top community college administrators for consideration by the Board of Trustees.
The College announced this week that it has selected two candidates as finalists for the president’s position after the Board of Trustees met in special session on Thursday evening. The candidates will each be invited to Malvern and the COTO campus for tours of the campus and the community, a public reception, a formal presentation by the candidate and a formal interview with the Board of Trustees.
According to Mr. David Martin, Executive Vice President of The Pace Group, the Board of Trustees’ search consultant, each application was rated using a rubric form that was based on the presidential profile adopted by the Board. The Search Committee received the applicant documents and the consultant’s ratings on March 1, then began to deliberate on the candidates.  The Search Committee then conducted interviews of six candidates and checked references before recommending semi-finalists to the Board. After receiving the Search Committee recommendations the Board went into executive session to deliberate on the candidates.  The Board reconvened in regular open session and took action to name the finalists.
The two finalists and their interview dates are:
     • March 30 – Dr. Steve Rook, Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs, Rich Mountain Community College, Mena, Arkansas
     • March 31 – Dr. Ricky Tompkins, Vice President for Learning, Northwest Arkansas Community College, Bentonville, Arkansas
During their individual visits to Malvern, the candidates will be very active. They will each tour the campus visiting all major divisions and departments, attend an informal lunch with COTO students, and enjoy a driving tour of the community.
In the afternoon, the candidates will visit with COTO Staff and Faculty Councils, and beginning at 3:30 p.m., the general public, faculty and staff of the College are invited to a reception in the COTO Great Room. At 4:00 p.m., each candidate will make a 15-20 minute formal presentation to those assembled during the reception followed by an open question and answer session. The Board of Trustees invites all students, faculty and staff, and the general public to meet these candidates during the tours and/or during the reception, hear their formal presentations, and ask questions of them during a Q & A session after their respective presentations. Each candidate will then meet with the Board of Trustees in Executive Session in the Ballard Conference Room.
The Board feels that these two candidates are qualified, have the right credentials, have had successful experiences in significant two-year college administrative posts and have great potential to provide executive leadership for the continued growth and development of the College. The Board also recognizes that there is a certain culture in the five-county service area, in the Malvern community and in the College itself. The Board wants to select the person who is the perfect fit for this particular situation and job to maximize the potential for success.
The Board of Trustees anticipates finalizing the appointment of a new COTO President by March 31 so as to give the new person and family adequate time to transition to the College and the Malvern community before July 1.