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USU chief is finalist for Tennessee job

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — After three days of interviews, the pool of candidates to become the next University of Tennessee president was cut to six — including Utah State University President Kermit Hall — on Thursday.

"They really share the same values that we share. They share the same passion for higher education that we share. And they also are committed to making this university better," said trustee Jim Murphy, who chaired the 19-member search advisory council of trustees, faculty, staff, alumni and students .

The panel said they found such candidates after an unprecedented search that began with 47 applicants and included visits to candidates' homes, reference calls, resume reviews and background checks by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and Atlanta search firm Baker Parker.

The six contenders are:

Jack Burns, 51, vice president for the University of Colorado system.

Brady Deaton, 61, provost for the University of Missouri at Columbia, and a former UT-Knoxville professor of agricultural economics.

Hall, 59, president and history professor at USU.

Kenneth Olden, 65, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Science in Research Triangle Park, N.C.

John Petersen, 56, provost at the University of Connecticut.

Bill Stacy, 65, chancellor of UT-Chattanooga.

The remaining six face a second round of interviews on Tuesday before another panel, which will narrow the list to three. The full UT Board of Trustees will interview them Wednesday and pick the president.

A legal scholar and a member of the presidential commission that reviewed the John Kennedy assassination records, Hall showed a common touch by introducing himself to his Utah State constituency by milking a cow in every county.

Students from North Carolina State University, where Hall earlier was provost, sent their endorsement Thursday.