The administrative shuffle is continuing at Utah’s universities with Snow College set to appoint a president next week — becoming the fifth campus to get a new leader in the past year.
The school in central Utah, with classes in Ephraim and Richfield, released its list of four finalists Friday. The person selected will be tasked with leading the smallest public college in the state with 5,500 students, a rich rural legacy and a unique two-year focus.
The candidates, all men, are: state Rep. Val L. Peterson, who currently serves as vice president of finance and administration at Utah Valley University; Bradley J. Cook, provost of Southern Utah University; Courtney R. White, chief of staff at Dixie State University; and Steven J. Hood, vice president for academic affairs at Snow College and the only internal finalist.
The new president, whom the university expects to select by Jan. 11, will replace Gary L. Carlston, retiring in May after nearly five years at the helm of Snow College.
The replacement will come in at the tail end of the major overhaul of university leadership across the state, with new presidents also being named at the University of Utah, Utah Valley University, Westminster College and Weber State University.
Now, no president at any of the state’s eight public colleges will have been in office longer than five years. Southern Utah University’s leader, Scott Wyatt, appointed in 2013, is the longest serving.
A 22-member search committee spent months reviewing the Snow College applications, according to a news release. The school will host public meetings Thursday with each candidate so any student or community member can ask questions.
The Board of Regents, which oversees higher education in Utah, will then hear from the four finalists next Friday, likely naming one by late afternoon.
Here is a brief overview of each candidate:
Val L. Peterson
Peterson, a Republican lawmaker representing Orem, has served in the Legislature since 2011.
He was chairman of the House Education Committee until he was promoted to majority assistant whip for the upcoming session. During his tenure, he has pushed bills to overhaul Utah’s technical college system and ban most public employees, including those in school districts, from lobbying on legislative issues. The latter measure did not pass.
Peterson has worked at Utah Valley University for roughly 32 years (starting when it was then a community college in 1987). Currently, he oversees facilities, finance and IT for the school.
He is also a retired brigadier general, having served in the Utah National Guard.
His public meeting is scheduled from 2 to 2:50 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 10, at Snow College’s Huntsman Library, 141 E. Center Street, Ephraim.
Bradley J. Cook
Cook was previously a presidential finalist for the openings at UVU last year and at SUU in 2013.
As provost at Southern Utah University, he’s focused on attracting more international and diverse students to the Cedar City school. He has also helped create 25 new academic programs and centers there.
Previously, he served as president of the Abu Dhabi Women’s College in the United Arab Emirates, and eight years — split from 1993 to 1995 and from 1999 to 2006 — as a vice president at then-Utah Valley State College.
His public meeting is scheduled from 3 to 3:50 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 10, at the Huntsman Library.
Courtney R. White
White is the only candidate of the four selected who graduated from Snow College, where he earned his associate’s degree.
Currently, as chief of staff at Dixie State University, he advises the president and oversees campus planning. Since 2014, he has also served as an adjunct faculty member at Southern Utah University.
White has a long record of working in education, including lobbying for the University of Oregon and the Utah Education Association, and serving in the systems of higher education in Utah, Nevada and Oregon.
His public meeting is scheduled from 4 to 4:50 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 10, at the Huntsman Library.
Steven J. Hood
Hood has served as vice president of academic affairs at Snow College for four years. In the post, he has honed Snow College’s general education program to make credits easier to transfer to four-year universities in the state.
Previously, he spent 27 years teaching politics at Ursinus College in Pennsylvania, serving as department chair, assistant dean and later director of the first-year liberal education program.
His public meeting is scheduled from 1 to 1:50 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 10, at the Huntsman Library.