CLARION – Clarion University’s Council of Trustees voted unanimously last week to recommend two candidates for university president to the Board of Governors of Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education.

Following the recommendation of the presidential search committee, the 11-member council recommended that the board consider Dr. David Urban, dean of the Jennings A. Jones College of Business at Middle Tennessee State University, and Dr. Dale-Elizabeth Pehrsson, dean of the College of Education and Human Services at Central Michigan University.

“We choose to echo the presidential search committee’s decision to make a courageous statement by endorsing and forwarding these candidates,” said JD Dunbar, chairperson of the Council of Trustees. “Our next president will herald hallmarks of change for Clarion and will be someone who will create winning work teams and affirm others, who can nurture, shepherd and challenge us to grow in a way that complements the Clarion community, raises our visibility in the State System and connects us academically,”

Dunbar said Urban and Pehrsson are experienced academic leaders who possess the qualities to build upon the institution’s 150 years of delivering an excellent education. Both individuals have a passion for the mission of public education and possess the qualities necessary to effectively advocate for the university, articulate our values and actively champion fundraising and friend-raising with the university’s many and broadly based constituents, according to Dunbar.

“The council believes that these two candidates would continue our tradition of excellence; enhance our co-curricular programs and activities; advance our enrollment/retention goals; leverage our academic strengths in an effort to deliver a high-quality, student-centered experience; and communicate with our campus community to inspire all to do the right things for the right reasons at the right times,” she said.

Urban has served as chief academic and administrative officer for the AACSB-accredited Jones College of Business since 2013. The school serves 3,100 students with 150 faculty and staff and a $22 million operating budget. He has led strategic planning, administrative structure and processes, and academic affairs and has secured multiple gifts exceeding $1 million, including a $3.5 million gift to establish the Political Economy Research Institute. He oversaw construction of a new advising center. A certified Dale Carnegie Course instructor, he implemented the addition of the course as a requirement in the undergraduate curriculum.

Pehrsson has been a dean and professor at Central Michigan University since 2012. She is responsible for initiating new programs; international expansion; global/distance education; and the advancement of scholarship, research and creative activity. She recruits, retains and advances qualified faculty from diverse disciplines and backgrounds. Pehrsson oversees an annual budget of $40 million and supervises five large academic units. In 2017, she completed a one-year presidential fellowship in the office of the president of Misericordia University in Dallas, Pa. She serves on national, regional, state, university, college and community committees. She has secured multiple gifts for her initiatives including a $5 million grant from the Dow Foundation.

Urban and Pehrsson were among four candidates who visited campus recently.

“All of the candidates we brought on campus were of exceptional caliber and have notable credentials and achievements. I am proud of our search committee for selecting this level of candidates,” said search committee chairperson Milissa Bauer. “We followed the presidential selection policy and process set forth by the State System, which included engaging a nationwide search firm that yielded highly diverse and qualified candidates.”

Reference checks, full background reviews and verifications of credentials were completed on all candidates visiting the campus.

“After reviewing all the feedback from the university family, the search committee deliberated and chose the two candidates that exhibited a track record of strategic leadership and the essential qualifications of inspiring, engaging, motivating and mobilizing integral units that work together to solve challenges,” Bauer said.

The Board of Governors and the interim chancellor will interview Urban and Pehrsson and will select the next president of Clarion University.

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