MARQUETTE – Northern Michigan University’s presidential search has narrowed to two finalists according to Sam Benedict, member of the NMU Board of Trustees and chair of the Presidential Search Advisory Committee.

The finalists being considered by the board are John Byrd, executive vice president, University of Evansville in Evansville, Ind., and Leslie Wong, vice president for Academic Affairs, Valley City State University, Valley City, N.D.

Raymond Cross, president, Morrisville State College, Morrisville, N.Y., and John Fallon, president, State University of New York – Potsdam, announced today (March 11) that they are withdrawing from the search.

“Dr. Byrd and Dr. Wong are both very strong candidates,” said Benedict.  “The trustees will continue with final background checks and due diligence.”

All four candidates visited the NMU campus during the week of Feb. 23-28.  Comments from constituents of the NMU campus and general community were provided to the board via an online survey.

Benedict said the board will complete its remaining search process tasks and tentatively plans to meet near the end of the month or in early April.

NorthernÂ’s board stated prior to the start of the search that its goal was to announce the new president in the spring or early summer with the hope of having that person in place by July 1, the start of the new fiscal year.

“I see no reason at this time that we will not be able to accomplish that goal or have the new president in place even earlier,” Benedict said.

The successful candidate will be replacing Judi Bailey, who left NMU last spring to become president at Western Michigan University.  Mike Roy has been serving as interim president.

Profiles of the finalists

John Byrd, Executive Vice President, University of Evansville

Since 2001, ByrdÂ’s duties at the University of Evansville have been to provide direct oversight to strategic planning, fiscal affairs and administration, enrollment management, student life, financial aid, the bookstore and food services. Evansville is a private United Methodist-related institution with 170 faculty serving 2,100 students.  At UE from 1978-95, Byrd held the positions of vice president for academic services and planning and for planning and strategic services; director of planning and institutional research; assistant dean of the College of Arts and Sciences; and assistant professor of health education.  From 1995-2001, Byrd was the vice president for student affairs and a professor of education at the University of Southern Indiana. He has also taught health education at several universities and colleges during his career. He received his doctorate in health education in 1977 from Southern Illinois and his masterÂ’s in health education in 1972 and his bachelorÂ’s in physical education in 1971 from the University of Missouri.

Leslie Wong, Vice President for Academic Affairs, Valley City State University

At Valley City State University – a notebook computer university – Dr.  Wong has been responsible since 1999 for oversight of six academic divisions as well as several offices, the technology center, library, and the mentoring and undergraduate research programs. He also oversees technological curriculum initiatives and corporate, regional and international partnerships. VCSU has 1,000 students and 155 faculty and staff members. Wong was the provost and academic vice president (1996-99) at the University of Southern Colorado and interim president of that school from January-June 1997.  He was an academic dean (1990-96) at The Evergreen State College and taught psychology there (1988-96) and at Pierce College (1974-88). Wong earned a doctorate in educational psychology in 1986 from Washington State University, a masterÂ’s in experimental psychology in 1974 from Eastern Washington University, and a bachelorÂ’s in psychology in 1972 from Gonzaga University.

Prepared By
Cindy Paavola
Director of Communications