Presidential Search

Presidential Search

Dear Philander Smith University Community,

On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I am pleased to announce that we have formed a committee to lead a comprehensive search for the University’s 15th president. A 16-member presidential search advisory committee has been assembled to actively engage in this exciting process.  Members of the committee include trustees, administration, faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community partners.

Additionally, the University is issuing a Request for Proposal (RFP) for a Presidential Search Consultant/Firm to work with the committee to facilitate and ensure a thorough process.

With a goal to have a President in place by the Fall 2024 semester, the Advisory Committee will commence with virtual listening sessions with all constituent groups while simultaneously engaging a consultant.

Please check the Presidential Search web page often for updates on the search process.  Dates, times, and meeting links for listening sessions will be posted to the web page.

We are committed to ensuring a transparent, unbiased, and confidential process. Thank you in advance for your engagement and support as we move into the next era of our beloved institution.


Terry L. Esper, Ph.D., ‘96
Chair, Philander Smith University Board of Trustees


Presidential Search Advisory Committee

Dr. Terry L. Esper, Chair of the Board of Trustees, has announced the Presidential Search Advisory Committee. While the final decision on the 15th PSU President will be made by the leadership and members of the Board of Trustees, this Advisory Committee will be vital to this important decision. This committee will work alongside a retained professional search executive to develop and evaluate a list of qualified and viable finalists for the Board’s consideration.

According to Esper, "In selecting this committee, our desire was to assemble a group of talented and caring individuals representing the diversity of perspective and experience that is necessary to ensure that our search activities are fair, balanced, and executed with integrity." The result is a Search Advisory Committee consisting of the following 16 members, representing 8 members of the Board of Trustees, 2 PSU Administrators, 2 PSU Faculty members, a PSU Staff member/associate, a PSU Student, a PSU Young Alum, and a PSU Community Partner:

         • Dr. Patti Freemyer Martin – Advisory Committee Chair, PSU Board of Trustees Executive Committee
         • Dr. Suzan Anwar – PSU Faculty (Associate Professor in the Dept. of Computer Science)
         • Dr. Dexter Booth – PSU Board of Trustees, PSU Alumnus
         • Arkansas State Senator Linda Chesterfield – PSU Community Advocate/Partner
         • Dr. Shannon Clowney Johnson – PSU Executive Cabinet (Vice President for Academic Affairs/Chief Academic Officer)
         • Mr. Roderick Dunn – PSU Board of Trustees, PSU Alumnus, PSU National Alumni Association (NAA) President
         • Dr. Daniel Egbe – PSU Faculty (Full Professor in the Dept. of Political Science)
         • Mr. Frederick Hurt – PSU Executive Cabinet (Principal Support Technician, Ellucian Managed Services), PSU Alumnus
         • Dr. Tionna Jenkins – PSU Board of Trustees Executive Committee, PSU Alumna
        • Mrs. Eleanor Lindsey – PSU Board of Trustees
        • Ms. Savana Mars – PSU Student Government President
        • Mrs. Lisa Menzies-Earvin – PSU Board of Trustees
        • Bishop Laura Merrill – PSU Board of Trustees Executive Committee, Bishop of the Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church
        • Dr. Kaleybra Mitchell – PSU Executive Cabinet (Interim Vice President for Institutional Advancement)
        • Mr. Keilan Patterson – PSU Young Alumnus, Emerging Leader in the PSU NAA
        • Mr. Samuel Roberts, Esq. – PSU Board of Trustees


In addition, PSU Trustee Emeritus Dr. Charles Donaldson and Past PSU Trustee Dr. Etta Carter, both PSU Alums and members of the United Methodist Church, have agreed to serve as special advisors to the Search Advisory Committee during the initial phases of the search process.


Presidential Search Advisory Committee Charge

Consistent with the Bylaws of the Board of Trustees of Philander Smith University (PSU), the Board of Trustees (“Board”) has the ultimate responsibility for selecting, appointing, and setting the terms of employment for the President of PSU. Thus, the Presidential Search Advisory Committee (“Committee”) is not a hiring committee; rather, the Committee has been appointed to assist the Board in fulfilling this important responsibility.

The Committee’s role is to conduct a nationwide search, to include the recruiting, soliciting, reviewing, and vetting of applicants for the Presidency. The goal will be to determine whether applicants have demonstrated the requisite experience, skills, and leadership attributes to be the President of PSU. Additionally, candidate vetting should include consideration and evaluation of their understanding and commitment to the mission, values, social justice emphasis, and United Methodist Church-connectedness of PSU. A professional search consultant will be retained to assist the Committee in doing this important work.

Toward this end, the Committee will narrow an initial applicant pool to roughly 8-10 semi- finalist candidates, with each semi-finalist being offered the opportunity to interview with the Committee. These interviews should be rigorous and in-depth, as the Committee is charged with presenting a slate of approximately 3-4 unranked finalist candidates to the Board for consideration and finalist interviews. Reference checks of both on- and off-list references must be completed by the Committee before a candidate may be presented to the Board for consideration as a finalist. The goal is for the slate of finalists to be presented to the Board on or before May 10, 2024.

Considering the importance of this work, and the timeline associated with it, it is critical that Committee members commit to reviewing all submitted application materials and attending all meetings and interviews conducted by the Committee. Additionally, it is crucial that the entire search process conducted by the Committee remain strictly confidential – including after the search process has concluded. Confidentiality on the part of Committee members is of paramount importance, both to protect the privacy (and employment prospects) of applicants and to ensure confidence on the part of PSU and community members in the integrity of the search process and the resulting hire.

The Board retains the right to remove any individual from the Committee who fails to maintain strict confidentiality or who otherwise fails to discharge their duties as a Committee member.

Listening Sessions

Join us for our PSU Presidential Search Listening Sessions tailored to the diverse communities and stakeholders we serve. These sessions are designed to gather input and feedback from alumni, students, faculty, staff, and community partners. Additionally, we'll have a special in-person listening session during the NAA convention on Friday, April 5, 2024 from 4PM - 5PM.

Monday, April 1, 2024

  • PSU Alumni - 7 PM
  • Students - 8 PM

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

  • Administration - 9AM
  • Staff - 10 AM
  • Faculty - 11 AM

Your input is invaluable as we search for Philander Smith University's next president. We look forward to hearing from you!

Why Philander Smith University?

Epicenter for Educational Growth

We invite you to explore the vibrant world of Philander Smith University, where education meets empowerment, diversity thrives, and opportunities abound. Discover our rich history, innovative programs, and the inspiring stories of our students, faculty, and alumni. Uncover why PSU is not just a university but a transformative experience that shapes leaders and builds communities.

A City Full of History

Welcome to Little Rock, AR a city steeped in history and opportunity. As a potential presidential candidate at Philander Smith University, you'll find that Little Rock is a vibrant blend of Southern charm, cultural diversity, and thriving economic sectors. Explore our rich civil rights heritage at the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site, delve into the arts scene at the Arkansas Arts Center, and experience the natural beauty of the River Market District. Discover why Little Rock is not just a city but a dynamic hub of growth and possibility.