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Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the search for the next Central Washington University president is ongoing, and Bill Funk of the search firm R. William Funk and Associates gave the CWU board of trustees an update on his firm’s progress during a special meeting Wednesday.

Funk did not share specific names, since the search is closed to protect the privacy of potential candidates, but he said he’s impressed with the volume of potential candidates his firm has put together. The potential candidates have been found through advertisements in higher education publications, nominations and through proprietary mailing lists on which his firm relies.

As of the Wednesday meeting, the pool of potential candidates was at 163, growing from 143 just the week before. The deadline to apply is Sept. 30.

Funk said many candidates do not apply until the last minute, so he expects that number to grow over the next couple weeks.

Of the 163, he considers 48 “active” candidates, who have confirmed their candidacy and shared their materials with the firm. He also expects that number to grow, with typical searches resulting in around 60 active candidates.

Funk said 37 people have rejected nominations or declined interest in the position, but all have been due to the individual’s personal circumstance or family issues.

“None of those were related to any negative feelings about the university,” Funk told the board.

Funk said he was hearing the two main reasons for CWU being an attractive presidential job were the location and mission of the university.

“People are very attracted to Ellensburg and your location,” he said. “The mission of student success, that resonates with a lot of these candidates.”

Funk boasted that his firm prides itself on developing diverse candidate pools. Of the 163 current potential candidates, 53 are women, and 45 are minorities.

Two internal candidates (currently employed by CWU) were also identified.

“The next two weeks will be pretty busy with all of those who waited til the end (to apply),” Funk said.

Next steps

After the Sept. 30 deadline, Funk and his team will whittle down the potential candidate list and present a list to the search advisory committee, made up of three board members and university community stake holders. They will narrow the search further, and present a list of final candidates to the board of trustees before final interviews.

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