University vice provost named as finalist to be president of USD

Christopher Callahan is one of four finalists to be the next president of University of South Dakota

ASU vice provost Christopher Callahan is one of four finalists in the running to become the president of the University of South Dakota, according to the South Dakota Board of Regents.

Callahan is the founding dean and a professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication as well as the CEO of Arizona PBS. He joined ASU in 2005 following 12 years as a dean at the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism.

The finalists will visit USD campus next week, April 24 and 25, to meet with the state’s Board of Regents, students, faculty and administrative staff. The new USD president is expected to be selected ahead of the upcoming academic year.

“The great strengths of the University of South Dakota make the presidency in Vermillion an extraordinarily attractive position,” Callahan wrote in his cover letter for the position.

As vice provost of the downtown Phoenix campus, he is a top university administrator for more than 13,000 students.

Callahan oversees approximately 300 employees and an operating budget of $30 million annually, according to his ASU faculty webpage. He has spent 25 years in academic leadership.

The ASU downtown Phoenix campus is comprised of the Cronkite school, the College of Health Solutions, the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, the College of Nursing and Health Innovation and the College of Public Service and Community Solutions. The campus also offers degree programs from the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College and the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts.

“Quite frankly, I would make a poor caretaker as a university president,” he wrote in his cover letter. “I thrive on designing and building, and that is why the University of South Dakota’s challenges and ambitions make this opportunity as alluring as its enviable strengths and traditions.

“Please allow me to delve a bit deeper into some of the key issues I believe will face the next president of the University of South Dakota, and how I approached similar challenges in my executive positions at Arizona State University.”

He highlighted his experiences in talent acquisition, fundraising and retention and graduation, among other things, in the four-page letter

Also in the running as finalists for the USD president position: 

  • Kelli R. McCormack Brown, Georgia College and State University provost and senior vice president for academic affairs
  • Sheila Gestring, University of South Dakota vice president of finance and chief financial officer
  • Philip K. Way, Slippery Rock University interim president

Editor’s Note: This article was updated at 2:36 p.m. on Friday, April 20, 2018, to include more information in the third paragraph. This story will be updated as new information becomes available.


Reach the executive editor at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @symmaki

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