Dr. McCollum selected as acting president for MU

Maria Barcoski
News Writer

As the Millersville community says farewell to Dr. Francine McNairy, a new president takes the helm – but not until April 1st, when Dr. Anderson takes his place as Millersville’s 14th president.
For the time being, Dr. James McCollum will act as president. He was selected by the Council of Trustees when Provost Prabhu could not undertake the presidential duties due to limitations from a recent eye surgery.

Dr. McCollum served as senior advisor and chief deputy, contributing to the president’s role in leading an effective senior management team.
Dr. McCollum served as senior advisor and chief deputy, contributing to the president’s role in leading an effective senior management team.

Dr. McCollum, before his temporary position as president, was the executive deputy to the president and chief of staff. His background in education follows him into Ohio, where he has served for 10 years as CEO of the inter-university council of Ohio, an education association representing the collective interests of the state’s public universities.
For more than 20 years, he has filled many roles, such as presidential assistant, head of the University relations unit, and governmental relations officer under Youngstown State University.

How were you chosen for the honor of being acting President of MU?

Response: There is a PASSHE (state system) policy that provides an acting president be designated whenever the President is off campus and would not easily be able to return to campus within a reasonable time. In the past this plan covered a president’s absence for several days when away at a national conference or for a week or two when the president was on vacation. The policy has recently been amended by the PASSHE Board of Governors to more specifically cover a succession plan in the event an acting or interim president needs to be appointed for longer periods of time than a temporary absence. The succession plan is developed by each university president in consultation with their Council of Trustees (COT) Chairperson, and the COT Chairperson and the Chancellor consult on the appointment of an acting or interim president in situations where there is a presidential vacancy.

What are some of your duties as acting President?

Response: All the normal duties and responsibilities of the president as the CEO of the institution: operational, financial, academic, student, and external relations. Like all presidents, I carry out the duties and responsibilities on a day to day basis ably by assisted cabinet officers and their respective leadership teams and managers and supported by the University’s very capable staff. During the presidential leadership transition I will be relying on cabinet officers for their essential leadership roles within their respective divisions, and in particular on Dr. Prabhu, the Provost, for his leadership of Academic Affairs.

As “executive deputy to the president and chief of staff”, what have been your duties? Will that role continue throughout your presidency or have they temporarily filled in that position?

Response: The executive deputy to the president/chief of staff provides direct support to the president as one of the senior officers of the University and manages the staff within the Office of the President. I will not have an executive deputy during my two months service as Acting President. I think it is important to point out that I will have the strong support of the staff in the Office of the President, and that I am not alone in this regard as there are others within cabinet and elsewhere that will have additional responsibilities during the presidential transition.
Due to the changing administrations, are there any expected changes that students would want to know about at this time or in the future (that you are aware of)?

Response: I want to reassure students who may have concerns about the unresolved contract negotiations between the statewide faculty union and PASSHE. I preface this at the outset to call your attention to the fact that PASSHE has successfully negotiated successor labor agreements with all of its union represented employee groups except faculty and that negotiations are ongoing and we remain hopeful that an agreement can be reached with APSCUF without a faculty strike. I believe that our faculty and all employee groups at Millersville University join the administration, our Council of Trustees, the Office of the Chancellor and the PASSHE Board of Governors in the deeply held belief that students are our top priority and that the quality of their educational experience is our shared number one goal and mission.
In the unlikely, but possible, event of a faculty strike Millersville University will be open for normal business operations. To our students this means that:
• all housing and residence life facilities will be open and staffed
• all student dining facilities will be open, stocked, and staffed
• most, if not all, university events and activities will be held as scheduled
Finally, the University has no way of predicting if a strike is called how many Millersville University faculty will choose to strike and not be available to teach their classes. In that event we will advise students to go to their classes as scheduled. I am hopeful that this message will reassure students that the University will be open and responsive to students’ basic needs. We will continue to update our website as new developments occur while remaining positive and hopeful that a settlement will be reached.

Have there been any concerns about the transition?

Response: I don’t believe so. I know we have a good transition plan that involves Dr. Anderson, Mr. Warfel (the COT Chairperson), a highly capable cabinet, and me. We have fine employees across the University and a talented faculty. All of us are working together with students as our top priority. We are on good footing.