Vern Davenport

Vern Davenport

The search for East Carolina University’s next chancellor is temporarily paused due to the impact of COVID-19, said Board of Trustees Chairman Vern Davenport.

Davenport, speaking at Monday’s chancellor’s search committee meeting, said UNC System President Bill Roper agreed to the pause. The situation would be reassessed in a couple of weeks when it is feasible to bring candidates to the campus for visits.

“This is not a three-month, six-month, annual or year-long kind of pause, we’re just putting it on pause for a couple of weeks and in the context of this COVID-19 pandemic I think everyone’s going to understand the perspective and appreciate the communication,” said Davenport, who is also chairman of the search committee.

While deadline for candidates to submit applications was March 16, Davenport said the candidate pool is not full. The committee is continuing to actively recruit candidates, speak with interested candidates and receive applications and nominations.

There have been 50 nominations and 60 full applications for the chancellorship, said Lynn Duffy, senior associate vice president for leadership development and talent acquisition for the UNC System Office.

“In terms of the candidate pool, what I would say is we’re pretty pleased with what we’ve seen from both the quality and the quantity of the applicants,” Duffy said.

Duffy said on the surface it appears the pool of candidates is diverse but they won’t know until they start meeting candidates.

“Over the next several weeks we want to make a targeted effort particularly to reach out to diverse candidates, we want to have a well-rounded pool in the truest sense of the words, to be clear we will continue to accept applications, in fact, we got an application this morning (March 23),” Duffy said.

All members of the search committee are required to complete unconscious bias training, Davenport said.

“There has been nothing that I know of that we have done that should give anyone any perspective that we are not interested in a diverse candidate and as Lynn said that has been a very specific focus of this search and to some degree we feel like we have a diverse pool, as Lynn commented on and we’re going to continue to focus on that as we have another two or three weeks to do so,” Davenport said.

Crystal Chambers, vice chairwoman of ECU Faculty, said she was concerned after reaching out to nominees.

“Well, people think ECU is not serious about having a person of color, or a woman, or someone who is a person of color and that happens to be a woman as well, as a candidate,” Chambers said. “And so when I reach out and have these discussions, I feel like I’m in this uphill conversation about how serious ECU is about having a robust candidate pool, that we want to have the best people with the best experiences, the best qualifications and that really means looking at a little bit of everybody.”