Kendall Blanchard is an anthropologist, an expert in American
Indian culture whose publications have titles like The
Mississippi Choctaws at Play: The Serious Side of Leisure and
The Anthropology of Sport: An Introduction.
As vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of
Tennessee at Martin, he is acknowledged as an authority on the
use of technology in college instruction.
Blanchard, one of four finalists for the job of University of
North Florida president, is candid enough to describe the
interview process as a courtship.
"These things are like marriages," said Blanchard, 55. "We're
in a courtship phase right now."
He is not sure he wants the position, he said Tuesday, shortly
before his interview, but is intrigued enough to investigate
This afternoon, an advisory committee that conducted
interviews with the finalists this week, and a selection
committee named by the Board of Regents will meet to consider
the strengths of the candidates. The regents expect to make a
choice on June 12.
Blanchard's supporters say he possesses the combination of
academic and administrative experience and personal
characteristics needed in a university president.
He has unquestionable academic credentials, said Bryant
Millsaps, former director of the Tennessee Higher Education
That is important if he is to be taken seriously on campus. But
he is not such an academic that he can't connect with people of
diverse backgrounds, Millsaps said.
Blanchard lived for months on American Indian reservations in
the West, conducting research.
But he also moves with ease among chief executive officers of
major corporations, said Millsaps, who first worked with
Blanchard at Middle Tennessee State University.
"He exudes confidence and he makes you want to follow him,"
Millsaps said. "If he doesn't become a president at the
University of North Florida, it is just a matter of where he
will become president."
Blanchard moved from the role of professor to administrator at
Middle Tennessee, where he became chairman of the Department of
Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work in 1978. …