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The St. Mary’s College of Maryland trustees choose the college’s new president as soon as Saturday, March 15.

The third and final candidate, Tuajuanda Jordan, who is dean of the college of arts and sciences at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Ore., visited the St. Mary’s campus March 13. Jordan told the campus community how her own experiences in college and working during the last three decades would blend with St. Mary’s College.

Finalist Charles Caramello, University of Maryland’s associate provost for academic affairs and dean of the graduate school, visited the campus March 6. Kim Mooney, Franklin Pierce University’s provost and vice president for academic affairs, visited the campus March 11.

Gail Harmon, chair of the trustees, said the board is planning a special meeting Saturday to discuss the selection of one of the three finalists. She said the decision could be made that day, but it may take longer to announce until after the candidates are notified and arrangements are finalized.

“We have three incredibly strong candidates. It’s going to be an extremely difficult decision, but I don’t think we can make a bad decision,” Harmon said Thursday.

Jordan said during an open forum Thursday that said she felt connected to what’s called The St. Mary’s Way, which she described as a presence on campus that means people care about having a diverse community and being respectful to one another.

“It really is something that speaks to my spirit about life and living,” Jordan said.

Jordan said she is a first-generation college student from her family, and was able to succeed thanks to the help and encouragement of professors and others in academia.

Jordan taught chemistry at Xavier University in Louisiana before becoming a college administrator. She was there when Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005.

“We were all so committed to that institution. We knew we had to get it back open,” she said. Tough decisions had to be made then, she said, but the campus did reopen.

She left soon after to become the director of the Science Education Alliance of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, where she developed science curriculum for college freshmen.

Addressing a question about whether the push to engage young people in science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers was compatible with a liberal arts education, Jordan said science needs the humanities for a global perspective.

“Science is part of the liberal arts, so I don’t see it as an either or,” Jordan said. “We need to be able to educate our students so they can think and problem solve.”

While she said she had little experience advocating in government circles for financial and other support — part of the job of a public college like St. Mary’s — her experience in other realms has prepared her. She said she would work to form partnerships.

“I really believe in diverse perspectives when making a tough decision,” Jordan said.

She said that while she would listen to others’ ideas if she is directing the administrative staff and faculty of the college as president, “I’m not good with ‘no,’ and I’m not good with ‘that can’t be done.’”

“People will tell you I’m fair, but absolutely direct,” Jordan said.

She said she would want to engage alumni for support, including using their success stories to help in fundraising efforts for the college.

“People like to fund successes,” she said, adding that the college needs to find and promote those stories.

Of the local community surrounding the campus, she said she would listen to what people in the community wanted from the college to help create a “symbiotic relationship so everybody benefits.”

“I like thinking about big picture things,” Jordan said.

jyeatman@somdnews.com