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6 candidates remain for USF provost

After more than four hours of discussion, a search committee at the University of South Florida narrowed the list of provost candidates from 15 to 6 Wednesday evening.

The list includes interim provost Michael Kovac, but his inclusion was by no means unanimous. Several committee members said Kovac lacked the broad experience of some of the other candidates, and they noted that other candidates with similar backgrounds were being eliminated.

But other committee members pointed to Kovac's positive reputation as USF's dean of engineering and the good relationship he seems to have developed with USF president Betty Castor.

Kovac, who has been at USF since 1977, was made interim provost in January, shortly after Castor took office. The provost is USF's chief academic officer and No. 2 executive under the president.

In any case, it is not the search committee that makes the hiring decision. Each of the six candidates named Wednesday will be invited to USF for separate two-day interviews with a host of campus constituencies. The 26-member committee then will recommend two or three finalists to Castor, who will interview those people again before making the final decision.

The process is expected to take at least until January.

Committee chairwoman Cynthia Cohen, a business professor, said Wednesday that Castor is pleased with the list of candidates so far and wants the committee to take whatever time it needs to do a thorough job. Much of Wednesday's discussion revolved around checks the committee made with the candidates' references.

In addition to Kovac, the remaining candidates are Anne Hopkins, vice president for arts, sciences and engineering at the University of Minnesota; Gary Krahenbuhl, dean of the college of liberal arts at Arizona State University; Marvin Querry, executive vice provost and executive dean for academic affairs at the University of Missouri at Kansas City; Thomas Tighe, provost and vice president for academic affairs at the University of Connecticut; and John Wiesenfeld, vice president for academic programs and planning at Cornell University.