The group tasked with finding a new leader for the Southern University System is scheduled to meet Friday to discuss the group of candidates it has received so far.

Search committee members may not have a lot to talk about.

Through an open records request, The Advocate received copies of all of the materials the committee received in the run-up to its second meeting.

The records show there was one applicant, two nominees and a solicitation from a Virginia-based quarterly publication that would advertise the job for a discounted rate of $295.

The Southern system set out on its search for a new president this month, but the search committee adopted a condensed timeline that would name a replacement for President Ron Mason by the end of the year. Mason’s contract expires June 30.

The position was first advertised on Nov. 7. A website promoting the job was launched the following week.

In all, it apparently has spurred little interest in the job, though there’s still a week left for interested people to submit their names.

The lone self applicant, Kamal Dean Parhizgar, is a management and business ethics professor at Texas A&M International University in Laredo, Texas. According to his application materials, he decided to submit his name for the job because of his expertise in university administration.

“The (system) is at the threshold of a new era, with multifaceted challenges and incredible opportunities,” Parhizgar wrote to the board.

He has degrees from Shiraz University and University of Tehran in Iran, as well as a doctorate from Northwestern University.

A Southern University alumnus nominated Southern University Alumni Federation President Preston Castille for the post. Castille is serving on the search committee.

“We need someone who can do outstanding work and much more for Southern University,” wrote alumnus Thurston Jones, who now lives in Garland, Texas. “I am convinced (Castille) has no hidden agenda and will commit all of his energies to nurturing and guaranteeing our alma mater’s well-being and legacy.”

The second nominee is Chance W. Lewis, professor of urban education at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Ohio State University Associate Provost James L. Moore III urged the committee in an email to reach out to Lewis, a Louisiana native who has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Southern University.

“He truly possesses a professional track-record that warrants such a position,” Moore wrote of Lewis. “Dr. Lewis is also very dedicated to African American students, faculty and staff. He has demonstrated this dedication throughout his career.”

The search committee is slated to continue accepting applications through the end of the month.

Under the current timeline, which search committee members have said could be altered, a recommendation will be submitted to the system board on Dec. 12.

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