Three men, including the leader of the LDS Church’s Church History Department, have been selected as finalists to become the president of Dixie State University.
Previous president Stephen Nadauld, who oversaw the college’s transformation into a university amid controversy over whether to keep the name Dixie, a word associated with the Southern Confederacy, announced his retirement in October 2013.
The finalists will meet privately with groups representing faculty, staff, students and administration on campus on Wednesday. The Board of Regents will interview the three finalists in a closed session on Thursday. The board may select the president in a public meeting at 4 p.m. that day, or may convene at another time.
The finalists are:
• Reid Larkin Neilson, a former assistant professor at Brigham Young University, oversees global operations, strategic planning and a staff of 900 employees and volunteers as managing director of the history department, a post he has held since 2010.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in international relations and two master’s degrees, in business management and American history, from BYU. He earned a doctorate in religious studies, focusing on American religions, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Neilson is the author and editor of more than 20 academic books, has completed Harvard Business School’s General Management Program, and has worked as a business consultant for Arthur Andersen LLP. He has pursued continuing education programs at Columbia, Harvard, Virginia, Northwestern, and Boston universities and has toured nearly 70 countries.
• Don Capener has served as dean and the McGehee Endowed Chair in the Davis College of Business at Jacksonville University in Florida since 2011, raising $1.5 million to launch a new doctoral program and $1 million to support online and hybrid programs.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from BYU and an MBA from the Thunderbird School of Global Management. He earned a doctorate from the International School of Management in Paris.
Capener has previously worked at Monmouth College in Illinois, as vice president for strategic planning, technology, and the chief marketing officer; as the interim vice president of enrollment; as an associate professor of marketing and in other roles. He also has worked in the private sector, as co-founder of Above the Rim, general manager for three international marketing agencies and as vice president of marketing for Netcentives, a Silicon Valley start-up.
• Richard "Biff" Williams has served as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Indiana State University since 2013.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in lifestyle management from Weber State University, a master’s degree in athletic training from Indiana State University, and a doctorate in curriculum and instruction from New Mexico State University.
He previously served as the founding dean of the College of Nursing, Health, and Human Services at Indiana State University, and in several roles as a faculty member at the University of Northern Iowa, including the associate dean of the College of Education. At Northern Iowa he helped create a private-public partnership to build a performance center that served surrounding rural communities.
"The Dixie State University Presidential Search Committee is proud to recommend the names of these three finalists to the Board of Regents," said Regent Wilford Clyde, chair of the committee, in a statement. "The involvement of DSU’s trustees, faculty, students and staff, along with the larger community, has been invaluable during this search."
The Utah System of Higher Education includes Utah’s eight public colleges and universities, including Dixie State, the University of Utah, Utah State University, Weber State University, Southern Utah University, Snow College, Utah Valley University and Salt Lake Community College.
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