The search for the new University of Central Arkansas provost has been dwindled down from 58 applicants to four who will visit the campus in the upcoming weeks.

The four candidates include Brock Tessman from the University of Montana, who will visit the campus Feb. 26; Sandra Bibb from Wichita State University, who will visit the campus Feb. 27; Patty Poulter from Kennesaw State University, who will visit the campus March 5; and John Rowan from Purdue University Northwest, who will visit the campus March 6.

The group of four will visit campus and will meet with several groups including the executive staff, staff senate, students, deans and chairs, faculty senate and the student government association as well as receive a campus tour.

UCA Chief of Staff Kelley Erstine said they used Parker Executive Search — a firm that has experience with nationwide academic searches — when searching for a new university president in 2016 and decided to use them again in search for the new provost.

He said the reason they decided to take that path was because of the importance of the job of the university provost, which is the second most important position on campus as chief academic officer; the provost is over all the college deans.

When looking, Erstine, who is the chair of the search committee —  made up of 19 people who represent all communities on the campus including students, staff, faculty and administration — they looked at experience, honing in on candidates who were either deans, associate provosts or provosts where they currently were.

He said they were also looking for those that were at a university that matched UCA's in size.

Erstine it was also important to find someone who understood the funding formula, which is performance based, that UCA is under, making it critical for that person to understand student success in recruitment, retention and graduation rates.

The search, he said, began in October and convened for two days last Thursday and Friday to narrow it down to the four.

"They come from great institutions and institutions that are highly respected," Erstine said. "We are very pleased."

As far as the final candidate, he said, that decision lies with the president.

“I am looking for a collaborative leader who is committed to our goals of improving retention and ensuring student success. This critically important hire must have an appreciation of our mission as a public comprehensive university," Davis said.

Michael Hargis, the dean of the College of Business, is currently serving as the interim provost and has been in the position since Aug. 1, 2017.

“I am very appreciative of Dr. Hargis’[s] willingness to serve in this critical role as we conduct a national search for provost,” Davis previously told the LCD. “His leadership and guidance will ensure that we continue to progress toward our goals of student success and retention and allow the university to capitalize on new opportunities in the interim.”