Though most people think of college basketball’s March Madness when they hear the phrase “Final Four” this time of year, University officials are focusing on a final four of their own.

Four finalists are vying to take over for Sue Eklund, the University’s associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students, who plans to retire at the end of this semester.

In a process that will through April 3, each of the four candidates will visit campus for a series of public and private interviews before administrators announce Eklund’s replacement.

The advisory committee leading the search began reviewing applications late last fall and narrowed the search to four candidates this winter. They have asked those finalists to come to campus to be reviewed by students and staff.

The search committee wants the student body to participate in the selection process by attending public presentations, including student forums and pizza lunches with the finalists. During these events, students can ask the candidates questions and provide written feedback.

Susan Mosley-Howard, the associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, is one of the finalists for the University’s dean of students position. She gave a presentation before a crowd of about 50 people in the Michigan Union yesterday.

Mosley-Howard, a University alum, took a moment before the talk to ask who was in the audience. While the event was open to all students, only about five attended. Everyone else identified themselves as either faculty or student affairs staff.

Mosley-Howard spoke for about an hour, addressing her experiences at Miami.

She also emphasized the importance of student-faculty partnerships, living-learning communities and the benefits of university student learning services. She also addressed the importance of facilitating students’ search for self and culture while on campus.

“Everything should support the student and their development,” she said.

Mosley-Howard, who earned a doctoral degree in Educational Psychology from Michigan State University, appeared at ease during the interview, occasionally joking with the audience.

Audience members asked a handful of questions regarding Mosley-Howard’s ability to transition to the University, asking what her first-year focus in the position would be and how she would react to specific problems and situations.

“My purpose is supporting students and helping them make sense of their collegiate journey,” she said.

LSA sophomore Kyle Locke, who attended the presentation, said he also attended a presentation by Timothy Quinnan, another candidate for the dean of students position. Quinnan, who interviewed Monday, is the vice president for student services and enrollment management at Stark State College in North Canton, Ohio. The other two candidates’ names have not yet been made public.

Locke said he thought Quinnan’s presentation illustrated his views on making the University’s different campuses more connected better than Mosley-Howard.

“Quinnan had a more idealistic, very optimistic approach to diversity and the belief that everyone can unite,” he said. “(Mosley-Howard) didn’t really address community unification.”

Linda Green, a spokeswoman for the Division of Student Affairs, said she had attended both Quinnan’s and Mosley-Howard’s presentations responded positively to both of them.

“Both come highly qualified and from similar positions,” Green said. “They show a clear understanding of the effort needed and the work expected to do what is needed. They show a passion for students, which is also very important.”

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