After meeting behind closed doors Friday, university trustees said they plan to choose a new leader by the time Penn State President Rodney Erickson retires on June 30.
The board's scheduled public meeting to discuss replacing Erickson was canceled abruptly on Wednesday only a few hours after being announced because the trustees said they needed more time to consider possible candidates.
"The search process is progressing and will continue until the best possible person to lead Penn State is selected and presented to the full board for a vote," Board Chairman Keith Masser said in a statement issued by the university. "We fully expect that our efforts will ensure we attract a president who can truly maximize the potential of our exceptional university."
A committee of 12 trustees has been working with an executive headhunter firm for months to choose a successor to Erickson, who was thrust into the job amid the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.
The executive search firm has reached out to nearly 400 people about the job, and asked another 150 to suggest candidates, according to the statement.
One trustee, Anthony Lubrano, complained Wednesday that the search committee was stacked with trustees representing business and industry, and that trustees not on the committee were excluded from interviews with the finalists for the job.
But Masser, a search committee member, said Friday that the search process must remain confidential and the board will not publish a list of candidates, so as not to alert their current employers.
"It has been shown repeatedly that a confidential search process for an executive position attracts the best and most qualified and extraordinary candidates. It is a protective measure for the candidates themselves and allows the University to attract the highest caliber of candidates," he said.
Erickson, previously the university's provost and executive vice president, was appointed to succeed Graham Spanier, one of the nation's longest-serving college presidents. Spanier was forced out and veteran football coach Joe Paterno fired in November 2011 in the chaotic days after Sandusky, a former defensive coach under Paterno, was arrested.