Helman out as president of WSCU by end of the month
Written by Mark Reaman   
Wednesday, 26 June 2013
Baca named interim president

The departure of Jay Helman as president of Western State Colorado University should not come as a surprise to anyone, since he had announced six months ago that he would be leaving the post. However, the timing might. He was expecting to leave in June 2014, but on Friday, June 21, the WSCU board of trustees announced they wanted to move in a different direction immediately. Helman’s last day on the job will be this June 30. University chief operating officer Brad Baca was named interim president.

 

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Helman admits this action was not the way he wanted to end his presidential term at Western. “Was I surprised? No,” said Helman. “I have been in discussions with the board about what is best for Western as we gear up for a presidential search. While my plan and hope was to remain until June 2014, it became apparent that the campus needs new energy headed into next fall. There were no major differences but a change of energy was agreed upon.”
In a press release from the university, it was announced that during a special meeting of Western’s board of trustees on Friday, Helman was thanked for his considerable service to the university. The board then named executive vice president and COO Brad Baca as interim president.
“Dr. Helman’s 23-year legacy at Western includes a number of remarkable achievements of which we are all proud,” said board of trustees chairman Todd Wheeler. “Now it is time to advance in a new direction and prepare for the future. We believe that this decision will help us as we lay the groundwork for the next president. Western State Colorado University is a great institution with amazing people and promise and its future is bright.”
Wheeler said the board became concerned that from an operations perspective, the university would suffer if a more definitive change weren’t made sooner rather than later. “We wanted to do the best thing we could to prepare for a new presidency and a new direction,” Wheeler said Tuesday. “We’ve been having a dialogue about presidential succession for some time now. Any board would have that dialogue with any president that’s been in the position for more than a decade. At the end of day, the board became concerned we couldn’t position the organization from an operating standpoint, not the teaching standpoint, to best prepare for a new direction in leadership while the current president remained involved for an extended period.
“We had hoped an extended resignation period wouldn’t be an issue but as we moved through the last six or seven months it became clear it wasn’t working as clearly or efficiently as we had hoped,” Wheeler continued. “We discussed it with Jay and that’s ultimately what we decided to do—act in the best interests of the institution, which isn’t always the easy choice.”
Wheeler said the hiring timeframe for a new president remains pretty much the same as originally announced. “The official launch of the new search will begin in earnest in August and probably continue through December, January and maybe into February,” he said. “We hope that by February we will make a decision and get someone new on board with great enthusiasm for the next five, ten or 15 years.”
Western has contracted with an executive search firm to help with the search. “We are confident that we will find the right person to lead Western into its next 100 years,” the press release stated. “In the interim, the university has a strong leadership team in place to ensure the transition is seamless and that Western is prepared for the new president when he or she is selected.”
According to the release, “Interim President Brad Baca has served Western in a leadership role for 11 years. During this time he has lead the university to a solid financial footing, allowing Western to invest in key strategic initiatives, and has overseen more than $125 million in upgrades and improvements to Western’s physical plant. His skill and thoughtful concern for the institution’s well being is eclipsed only by the trust and admiration our campus community and the Board of Trustees have for Brad and his leadership to date.”
As for what’s next for Helman, who originally came to Western as a kinesiology professor and head coach of the men’s basketball team in 1989 and became president in 2002, “I’m going to take some time to reflect on the next steps,” he concluded.