Michael D. McKinney. M.D., chancellor of The Texas A&M University System, is asking Stephenville community members for help.

Help in finding the best candidate to take the helm of Tarleton State University after Dennis McCabe steps down as president in May 2008.

“We can’t measure the next person against Dr. McCabe,” McKinney said. “There’s not going to be another Dr. McCabe.”

McKinney will form a search committee made up in part of community members to make recommendations.

One thing he said he is sure of is that the next new president won’t be someone that’s looking for a job.

“They already have a job,” McKinney said. “They like people and have people working for them that like them. We’re going to search… we’ve got to recruit.”

McKinney said the next president “will have to be somebody that recognizes the dependence of the community and the university on each other.”

“I want to get the best person,” McKinney said. “We’ll have a diverse search committee and a diverse pool of candidates. I’m a firm believer that you find what you look for.”

McKinney said it is important that whomever is selected “wants to live in Stephenville…not someone you have to talk into living in Stephenville.”

McKinney said he expects the new president to grow the student body not only in numbers of a two and a half to three percent increases per year but he definitely wants to see more students completing the program in terms of graduating.

“We have responsibilities down in the public school system that we cannot ignore,” McKinney said. “A large percentage of college freshman are not prepared for college academics.”

When asked if he felt the new 4x4 high school requirements will make a difference in the type of freshman received, he said, “My heart tells me it will make a difference but my head looks at the numbers.”

McKinney said he will also look for a president who will support the faculty.

“The key to the whole place is faculty,” McKinney said. “Quality teachers are important. We have to grow the faculty in terms of new and existing staff in terms of support.”

McKinney said academics should be stressed more than sports or other extracurricular activities, although those are important to the university, as well.

“We have to build on the relationships between students and faculty - that’s the point where teaching and learning take place,” he said.

McKinney said he expects the next president to stay a minimum of 15 years.

“Who has the vision? Who will listen to the rest of us when they lay out the path for 15 years?” McKinney asked. “None of us is as smart as all of us. The new president will be self-assured and take criticism very well.

“I don’t want to just do what we’ve been doing, but I don’t want to lose what we’ve been doing. People that you think would make a good president… I need you to tell me.”

McKinney said anyone is welcome to call him at his office at 979-458-6000.