The Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board recommended two applicants for interview for the state agency's director post, while expressing disappointment with the depth and quality of candidates.
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that board members selected Cheryl Lovell, former chief academic officer of the Colorado Department of Higher Education, and Mark Spencer, former director of the Higher Education Coordinating Council in the United Arab Emirates, to be interviewed for the vacant director's position of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education.
The post has been vacant since February 2011 when then-director Jim Purcell took a similar job in Louisiana.
Interim director Shane Broadway, a former state lawmaker, was once tabbed for the director's slot but withdrew his name from consideration after Republican lawmakers questioned if he met the statutory requirements for the law. That opened up the latest search.
The Democrat-Gazette reports that the higher education pa
nel noted several challenges for the dearth of qualified candidates.
Board members said it would be difficult to find qualified candidates because the salary for the position — $192,000 — is low relative to other states.
Some applicants may also be hesitant because the director serves at the will of the governor, board members said, and Arkansas is set to elect a new leader in 2014 to replace term-limited Gov. Mike Beebe.
Board members also discussed asking lawmakers to raise the salary for the position so the board may attract more qualified candidates or to change the statutory requirements so interim Director Shane Broadway or a similar candidate could fill the position permanently.
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