Towson provost acting leader

Regents subcommittee to solicit nominations for interim president

Process to take several weeks

Search for new chief won't begin until temporary is appointed

April 13, 2002|By Alec MacGillis | Alec MacGillis,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- One week after forcing the resignation of Towson University President Mark L. Perkins, the state university system's Board of Regents appointed the school's provost to act as president while the regents search for an interim replacement.

Regents had hoped to name an interim president at their regular meeting yesterday at University of Maryland University College. Instead, they appointed provost Dan Jones as acting president until an interim is appointed -- a process that could take up to several weeks.

Regents Chairman Nathan A. Chapman Jr. said a regents subcommittee will solicit nominations for an interim president and will consult with the Towson campus on the selection.

"Whatever happens with Towson and the future and the interim will be a decision worked out with and involving the Towson community," Chapman said.

The appointment of an "acting interim" president for Towson underscored how unsettled the leadership situation is at the 16,000-student campus.

Whoever is selected as interim president will be asked to serve between six months and two years, regents say. Only after an interim is found will the regents begin the search for a permanent president for the university, the second-largest school in the state system.

Perkins announced his resignation Monday after regents told him the week before that he would be fired if he didn't step down. He left after nine months in office, criticized for Towson's spending nearly $2 million on its new president's house in Baltimore's Guilford neighborhood.

Jones, a former English professor and 37-year veteran of Towson, said he would encourage communication between the regents and his Towson colleagues, many of whom have complained of being shut out of the decision to oust Perkins.

On Thursday, a group of regents and system staff met with Jones and a handful of Towson administrators and faculty to discuss interim candidates.

Jones said yesterday the interim head should have knowledge of Towson and an ability to resume the fund-raising efforts that Perkins had begun.

"We can't show that our intent [to raise funds] has been frustrated by events," Jones said. "We'll need someone who is compelling. Given the press that's been out there, it could be very difficult."

In other action, the regents referred back to their finance committee a proposed doubling of parking permit rates at the College Park campus.

More than 100 newly unionized university staff turned out at the meeting to protest the increase.

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