An advisory committee will be named to aid Texas A&M System Chancellor Dr. Michael D. McKinney in recommending a replacement for Tarleton State University President Dr. Dennis McCabe.

McKinney praised McCabe, who announced plans last week to step down effective May 31, 2008, for his 16 years as president and for giving “a year’s notice.”

“So that we have time for a well-thought-out selection process for the next president,” McKinney said.

McKinney said he envisions the advisory committee to include representatives of the TSU faculty and student body, as well as officials associated with the Stephenville Chamber of Commerce and city government, among possibly others.

“It’s very important that we have community input,” McKinney said.

In addition, McKinney said he plans to go to former TSU President Barry Thompson, who preceded McCabe, and “pick his brain.”

The advisory panel will make a recommendation to McKinney, and McKinney, based on the recommendation and other factors, will submit a recommendation to the Texas A&M System Board of Regents.

“We’re going to have to find somebody who will plan the future but also honor the past,” McKinney said. “Tarleton has a rich history, and we don’t intend to lose the history looking to the future.”

Calling it an “important job,” McKinney said TSU’s next president must become part of the community.

“I don’t think Tarleton could exist without Stephenville, and I don’t think Stephenville would be the same without Tarleton,” McKinney said.

Meanwhile, McKinney said McCabe has done a fine job and been a “stable force” at TSU and in Stephenville. He said McCabe has done an excellent job cultivating the relationship between the university and the city.

“That’s a relationship we will be intent on continuing,” McKinney said. “He’s taken the university through some changes. He’s the type of calm, thoughtful leader that we hope to find in his replacement.”

And he’s happy that McCabe wants to return to the classroom.

Like many professors, McCabe has “got the gene for teaching,” McKinney said.

“He says that’s what he wants to do. We’re glad he’s going to do that, and we appreciate the time he has given us,” McKinney said.

“The future of Tarleton is brighter than it’s ever been,” McKinney said. “Tarleton already has a good reputation. None of us are going to let that reputation slip, and we’re certainly not going to cause it to slip.”

DOUG MYERS is Managing Editor of the Empire-Tribune. He can be reached at doug.myers@empiretribune.com or (254) 965-3124, ext. 229.