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HUNTINGTON — The Marshall University Board of Governors accepted five finalists for university president from the search committee Thursday.

The five finalists will be invited to campus for public interviews in the upcoming weeks.

The presidential search was triggered by current president Jerome Gilbert’s decision earlier this year that he would not seek a contract extension next summer, citing personal and professional reasons.

The presidential finalists are, in alphabetical order: Dr. Bernard Arulanandam, vice president for research, economic development, and knowledge enterprise, The University of Texas at San Antonio; Bret Danilowicz, provost and vice president for academic affairs, Florida Atlantic University; Robyn Hannigan, provost, Clarkson University; Dr. Kathy Johnson, executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI); and Brad D. Smith, Marshall alumnus, philanthropist and former CEO of Intuit.

Arulanandam obtained a Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology at the Medical College of Ohio and received a postdoctoral fellowship at the Albany Medical College in New York, and an executive M.B.A. at The University of Texas at San Antonio.

As an established immunologist, he is focused on cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in the induction of immune responses against infectious diseases.

He has served as the director of the South Texas Center of Emerging Infectious Diseases and is currently an administrator for the Vaccine Development Center of San Antonio.

Danilowicz attained a B.S. in biology from Utica College of Syracuse University. He went on to earn a Ph.D. in zoology from Duke University, an M.A. in education leadership and management from Open University, and finally an M.B.A. from Georgia Southern University. Before joining Florida Atlantic, he served as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Oklahoma State University. He created a shared-governance strategic planning and budgeting process, diversified college and departmental leadership, established a college-wide focus on diversity and inclusion, and always exceeded fundraising goals.

Hannigan earned her a B.S. in biology from the College of New Jersey, a master’s in geological science from the University at Buffalo, and a master’s and Ph.D. in earth and environmental science from the University of Rochester. She became provost at Clarkson University in 2019 following her service as the founding dean of the School for the Environment at the University of Massachusetts Boston. A successful fundraiser and economic development partner, she has raised significant philanthropic support for facilities, scholarships and research at the institutions she has served.

Johnson earned her doctorate in psychology (cognition and development) at Emory University and her M.S. and B.S. in psychology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She is a professor of psychology and has previously served as dean of University College and associate vice chancellor for undergraduate education, where she led the creation of a Division of Undergraduate Education as well as a number of initiatives aimed at enhancing the quality of the undergraduate experience while also improving on-time graduation rates. She is trained as a cognitive developmental psychologist and has published extensively in scientific journals in areas related to expertise acquisition and conceptual development.

Smith earned his bachelor’s degree from Marshall University and his master’s degree in management from Aquinas College in Michigan. Prior to serving as the CEO of Intuit for 11 years, his career spanned four industries leading large, global organizations through turn-around, transformation and high growth environments. He is the executive chairman of the board of Intuit, chairman of the Nordstrom board and a board member of Momentive (formerly SurveyMonkey). He formerly served on the board of Yahoo as well.

Each finalist will visit the Huntington and South Charleston campuses Oct. 11-19 to meet with members of the university community. The schedule of candidate visits is as follows:

  • Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 11-12: Robyn Hannigan
  • Tuesday and Wednesday, Oct. 12-13: Brad Smith
  • Wednesday and Thursday, Oct. 13-14: Kathy Johnson
  • Thursday and Friday, Oct. 14-15: Bernard Arulanandam
  • Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 18-19: Bret Danilowicz

The open meetings will be broadcast online at

Community receptions will be held on both the South Charleston and Huntington campuses for each candidate and will be open to the public. Everyone is invited and encouraged to attend these open receptions to meet the candidates. The schedule of community receptions and links to submit feedback about the candidate visits will be available on the presidential search website.

Questions and comments can also be emailed to

After reviewing the feedback from the finalists’ campus visits, the Board of Governors is expected to make its final selection at the regularly scheduled board meeting Oct. 28.

The new president’s start date will be determined by their individual circumstances, and will be announced at the conclusion of contract negotiations.

According to Board of Governors Chairman Patrick Farrell, who also chairs the search committee, the finalists were selected following a competitive search process. The university received 107 applications for the position.

“Marshall has an excellent reputation and our presidency is an attractive position,” Farrell said. “The response was even greater than we perhaps anticipated and we are thrilled with the quality of the pool. Forty nominations were submitted directly to the presidential search website. In addition, our search firm received a large number of nominations and identified a broad base of prospective candidates nationally and internationally.”

Community members can continue to submit comments and suggestions through the website feedback form or by emailing through the end of the search.

Taylor Stuck is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch, covering state government, health and higher education. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook @TaylorStuckHD.

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