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State Regents Plan National Search For Chancellor

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ State regents may hire a consultant and take out advertisements for a new chancellor to replace Paul Risser, who is resigning after almost four years on the job.

John Massey of Durant, chairman of the state Regents for Higher Education, said the search for a new chancellor is expected to take no more than six months.

``We need to find the best leader for our system,'' said Massey, who has been on the board 14 years. ``You've got to have somebody who can coordinate and get along with 25 presidents, and also work with the state Legislature.''

Risser, whose resignation is effective July 28, plans to take a job coordinating research programs on University of Oklahoma campuses. Regents have named Phil Moss, vice chancellor for academic affairs, as interim chancellor until a permanent replacement is named.

The state regents are the coordinating board for higher education in Oklahoma, which includes 25 colleges and universities and 238,000 students. They have the power to grant degrees and have final say over tuition and fee increases, allocations to individual institutions and courses of study.

The state board also manages state scholarship programs, the OneNet telecommunications network and the Oklahoma Guaranteed Student Loan Program.

The chancellor, much like a city manager, does not vote on issues but makes recommendations to the state board, which has nine regents from across the state, each serving nine-year terms. Regents are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state Senate.

Risser established partnerships with CareerTechs so vocational students could earn college credit, and developed a program to help adult college dropouts complete their degrees.

``He is extremely intelligent,'' Massey said of Risser. ``He had some ideas that initially fell on deaf ears, but he kept pushing.''

Risser has been president of Oregon State University and Miami University in Ohio. The Blackwell native started his career in 1967 as a University of Oklahoma botany professor. He earned $260,000 a year as chancellor.

Oklahoma's search for a chancellor is likely to draw top candidates from inside and outside the state, said Paul Lingenfelter, president of the State Higher Education Executive Officers, based in Colorado.

``Sometimes it is helpful if the person in this position has already established relationships in the state, but that is not essential,'' Lingenfelter said. ``What is essential is that they begin to establish relationships in the state.''
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