VALDOSTA -- Finalists for both open vice president positions at Valdosta State University have been announced with President Ronald Zaccari hoping to have both spots filled by July 1.

Danny Arnold, Barbara Short Haskew and Louis Levy were selected as finalists for the vacant vice president of academic affairs position, while Douglass F. Covey Sr., Kurt J. Keppler and Russell F. Mast were tabbed for the vice president of student affairs spot.

Levy and Mast are both in-house candidates who have filled the two vacancies on an interim basis while the search process continued.

One of Zaccari's first moves as president was to extend the search deadlines for the positions in order to secure a more substantial pool of applicants. He also sent letters to presidents of public universities throughout the nation seeking recommendations on potential candidates. The tactic was extremely successful, generating 108 applicants for the student affairs opening and 88 resumes for academic affairs.

"That's just an incredible number of responses," he said. "Typically, I don't believe that we'd get that many. ... I do believe that extending the search and getting personal letters out really did assist in generating a broader pool."

On-campus interviews have already been scheduled for the candidates and will take place throughout the month of April. After that, Zaccari said he would meet with the search committees to select the best candidate and begin negotiations to fill the spots.

Arnold, who visited the campus earlier this week, is currently dean and professor of marketing at New Mexico State University. He previously worked at Mississippi State as an assistant dean.

Haskew most recently served as provost and vice president of academic affairs at Middle Tennessee State University. She left that position at the request of the institution's new president who wanted to appoint people of his own choosing in top positions. Haskew was also a finalist for the MTSU president job.

Levy is currently the acting vice president of academic affairs at VSU, taking over for Lloyd Benjamin, who left to become president of Indiana State University in June, 2000. Prior to that, Levy was the assistant vice president for academic affairs and also served as head of VSU's Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice.

On the student affairs side, Covey -- who is currently in town for his on-campus interview -- currently serves in a similar position at Idaho State University. He has also worked at the University of North Florida as an assistant vice president of student affairs.

Keppler is the associate vice president of student affairs at Georgia State University, where he has worked more than eight years.

Mast is currently the acting dean of students at VSU, and previously served as assistant dean of student affairs and student life. He replaced Ken Ferrell who left the school in November 1999.

Zaccari would like to fill the positions as soon as practical because searches for dean of the College of Education, dean of the College of the Arts and dean of Arts and Sciences are on hold until the VP vacancies are filled.

"Obviously (delaying the searches) was a logical decision because the academic vice president will be involved in helping select three deans and the department heads," he said. "It would not be fair to a new vice president coming in if the positions were already established. Most people I've talked with on campus concur it was a good idea to close everything down while searching for the two vice president positions."

While hiring in-house cuts down on transition difficulties, Zaccari said all of the candidates were on equal footing.

"It is less of a transition than if we bring in candidates from outside, but everyone is sitting equally at this point," he said.

Zaccari said he hopes to begin the dean searches in the next three weeks, with open department head positions to follow.

To contact reporter Bill Roberts, please call 244-3400, ext. 245.

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