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Coquese Washington, Tasked with Helping Penn State Presidential Search, Understands Value in Bringing in Outside Perspective

by on January 23, 2013 4:58 PM

Penn State women's basketball coach Coquese Washington is one of 18 members sitting on the Search and Screen Committee, tasked with helping the Presidential Selection Committee identify the university's next president.

It will be one of the most important hires in Penn State's history. President Rodney Erickson, who replaced Graham Spanier in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal, has said he plans to retire by June 2014. The search process is in its early stages, but Washington will have to balance several search meetings with her coaching duties.

"Fortunately, I'm not on the committee that makes the final decision," Washington quipped Wednesday at her weekly press conference.

Washington, in her sixth season atop the program, was one of the hires made by former athletic director Tim Curley that signaled a willingness to employ someone with no ties to the university in a highly visible position. Erica Walsh was hired as the women's soccer coach two months before Washington and had Penn State play for its first national championship ever last fall, and wrestling coach Cael Sanderson is on the verge of a dynasty in just his fourth season, having already won the last two national titles. Washington, for her part, returned the program back to national relevance last season when it won the Big Ten championship and has it ranked No. 8 in the country heading into Thursday night's game against Minnesota.

Penn State, conducting national searches for both president and athletic director, will almost certainly follow suit with both respective hires.

"When you have various perspectives coming to the table," Washington said, "then it allows for so much more growth to occur."

The Search and Screen committee, announced at last week's Board of Trustees meeting, is comprised of nine faculty members, one staff member, two academic deans, one vice president, two undergraduate students, one graduate student and one representative each from the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics and the Alumni Association.

The complete list of members is as follows:

  • Ann (Nan) Crouter, committee chairwoman, dean, College of Health and Human Development;
  • Daniel Hagen, committee vice chairman, immediate past-chair, University Faculty Senate; professor of dairy and animal sciences, College of Agricultural Sciences
  • Jalon Alexander, president, Penn State Mont Alto Student Government Association; undergraduate student in Letters, Arts, and Sciences
  • Brian Aynardi, Graduate Student Association University Faculty Senate Representative; graduate student, plant pathology and environmental microbiology
  • Larry Backer, chair (2012-13), University Faculty Senate; professor of international affairs and law, Dickinson School of Law
  • Robert Edwards, Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of English and Comparative Literature, College of the Liberal Arts
  • Shaun Gabbidon, Distinguished Professor of criminal justice, Penn State Harrisburg
  • David Hall, dean, College of Information Sciences and Technology; chair, Academic Leadership Council
  • David Han, associate professor of surgery and radiology, Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center
  • Madlyn Hanes, vice president for Commonwealth Campuses
  • Thomas Mallouk, Evan Pugh Professor of materials chemistry and physics, Eberly College of Science
  • Katelyn Mullen, vice president, University Park Undergraduate Association; undergraduate student in marketing and public relations
  • Brian Orland, Distinguished Professor of landscape architecture, College of Arts and Architecture
  • Margaret Slattery, assistant professor of bioengineering; undergraduate program coordinator in bioengineering, College of Engineering
  • Kathleen Smarilli, president, Penn State Alumni Association; partner, Murphy McCormack Capital Advisors
  • Coquese Washington, head coach, Lady Lions Basketball
  • Timothy Whitehill, applications system analyst manager, University Budget Office
  • Brenton Yarnal, chair-elect (2013-14), University Faculty Senate; professor of geography, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences

Nate Mink covers Penn State football and news for He's on Twitter as @MinkNate.
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