The search to replace Castleton University President Dave Wolk had been narrowed down last week to four candidates – and none were from Castleton.
The final candidates included Anne Huot, John LaBrie, Karen Scolforo, and Steven Siconolfi.
But Huot, who resigned in June as president of Keene State College, dropped out of the race on Friday citing family issues.
LaBrie, who visited campus mid-week, has an Ed.D. in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania.
Karen Scolforo has an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from University of North Florida and is currently the president at Central Penn College.
And Steven Siconolfi, who visited campus late last week, has a Ph.D. in Exercise Physiology from Kent State University and is senior vice president and provost at Mansfield University.
In a phone interview, Vermont State Colleges’ Chancellor Jeb Spaulding said the search for a new president of Castleton University has been going smoothly. He said the committee responsible for finding Wolk’s replacement has worked well together and is a strong team.
Although none of the candidates are from the Castleton University community, Spaulding pointed out they all have worked in New England at some point.
“It was one of the considerations that if they’re not local to Rutland County that they do have an appreciation for the New England mindset, and that was important to us,” Spaulding said.
But Spaulding said there are also many positives to someone from outside of Castleton becoming the new president.
“The advantage of having someone new come in is that you have new experiences, different experiences and bring a fresh set of eyes,” he said.
Siconolfi has written many Peer-Reviewed articles for journals about exercise physiology and has helped in many research projects including some for NASA, one of his former employers. He also has experience as a professor at multiple institutions including Ithaca College and Wayne State University.
Search Committee members Helen Mango and Mariah O’Hara agree that the committee worked very well together and both said they are excited to meet the candidates over the next two weeks while they are on campus.
“Everybody has had a voice,” Mango said.
She said committee Chairman Tim Jerman and Spaulding have been good about making sure everyone voices opinions throughout the process because they want to make sure that everyone is in agreement.
Asked about none of the candidates being from Castleton, both O’Hara and Mango said that it can be positive because they will bring a new perspective to Castleton.
“We have a wide array of candidates,” O’Hara said.
The candidates have all worked in different institutions and have had different experiences that Spaulding, Mango and O’Hara believe will be helpful to Castleton’s growth as a university.
LaBrie, for instance, taught and was the former dean of Professional Studies at Northeastern University and currently is the founding principal at Northeastern University at their newest campus in Toronto, the first International regional campus.
And in 2017, Scolforo won Century Link’s Business Woman of the Year Award. She also was president at Keiser College and other jobs have included being a writer/journalist for multiple publications and the executive director at Fortis College.
Scolforo visited campus on Tuesday and will wrap up her visit today.
All candidates are conducting morning meetings with faculty and afternoon sessions with students and faculty to address their plans for Castleton if chosen.
Junior Gabrielle Coons said that she thinks having a president who is not familiar with Castleton will be positive for the school.
“Castleton needs new perspective and I feel like the candidates not being from Castleton would give the school new perspective,” Coons Said.
James Wolfe, also a junior, seemed to agree and talked about what he wants in the new president.
“I would like to see them bring about new changes that make Castleton stand out,” Wolfe said.
Wolfe would like to see some changes in the way professors teach their students, such as being more hands-on. He hopes to see the president meet with the professors to discuss different ways of teaching that may be more hands-on and interesting for students.
But Reilly Knipes, a sophomore, believes candidates being unfamiliar with Castleton’s campus puts them at a disadvantage.
“They have big shoes to fill,” Knipes said.
After the campus visits, the committee will recommend two or three of the candidates to the Board of Trustees, which will make the final decision by the end of September, Spaulding said.
He, like Knipes, alluded to how difficult it will be to replace a president like Wolk, who has done so much for the university and who most students and faculty treasure.
“Dave Wolk is impossible to replace,” Spaulding said.