The search for a new provost is currently underway at the University of Central Arkansas.

Michael Hargis, the College of Business dean, was named interim provost in July by President Houston Davis and replaced former Provost Steve Runge in the efforts to make a change to the university’s leadership team.

The Log Cabin Democrat spoke with UCA’s Chief of Staff Kelley Erstine, who is also the chair of the provost search and steering committee, Thursday.

Erstine said after the success they had using Parker Executive Search — a firm that has experience with academic searches — when searching for a new university president last year, they went ahead and decided to use them again in search for the new provost.

"Honestly, [we chose them] because we had such a good relationship and outcome with them on the president search," he said.

Erstine announced the search in an email to faculty and staff in October and encouraged them to take part in the process by suggesting names of individuals who might be fit for the position in an online form on

"As a valued member of our community, we would like your help in identifying candidates for this position," he wrote.

Included in the email was a copy of the position description which included the responsibility of the role, preferred qualifications and expectations, information about the university and the application process.

Erstine said the search committee met for the first time Nov. 28 via conference call and heard from the firm, which said they had announced the open position, also listed on the university’s website as well.

He said the firm said so far they’ve received word from around 40 candidates who have expressed interest and possibly sent in applications.

"Everything goes through them," Erstine said.

He said the deadline to apply will be Jan. 22, 2018, and the committee will receive a list of all candidates and their materials Jan. 30, 2018.

From there, Erstine said, the search committee will identify around eight potential candidates Feb. 6 and then the firm will schedule interviews.

He said Feb. 15 and 16 the committee will interview the eight in person and immediately following, will select four and set up their campus visits to include the campus forums they conducted during the president search.

Erstine said they should have a final candidate by in March.

He said the university decided to do this type of search again because of the seriousness of the position … not just provost but chief of academic operations.

"It’s a very, very important position," Erstine said.

He said the committee is excited for what is to come.

"This is going to be a legitimate, transparent, open search," Erstine said.

Through the network that Parker brings to the table, he said he knows they will have some quality candidates to consider.