Witt/Kieffer Selected By DePaul University to Find Next President

June 20, 2016 – Witt/Kieffer has been retained by DePaul University to lead its search for a new president. After 13 years of leadership, The Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider will step down from his position as president at the end of the 2016 – 2017 academic year.

The transition in leadership occurs after a decade of significant growth at the university, including new levels of academic achievement and national recognition for DePaul. DePaul trustee and vice chair Jim Ryan will lead a search committee with representatives from the board, university administration, faculty, staff and students. The board has invited members of the university community to submit candidate names for consideration for DePaul’s next president.

“The board is dedicated to conducting a comprehensive national search to find the best individual possible to lead the university,” said William Bennett, DePaul’s board chair. The board will consider both Vincentian and lay leaders, the university said in a statement.

More Colleges Turning to Search Firms

Founded by the Vincentians in 1898, DePaul University is the nation’s largest Catholic university and the largest private university in the Midwest. The university, which is located in Chicago, enrolls around 16,000 undergraduate and about 7,600 graduate / law students, making DePaul the 13th largest private university by enrollment in the U.S., and the largest private university in Illinois.

Witt/Kieffer assists hospitals, health systems, academic medical centers, medical schools and physician groups; biotech, pharmaceutical, diagnostics and medical device companies; colleges and universities and not-for-profit community service and cultural organizations with senior administrative recruiting assignments. In related assignments, the firm has placed presidents for Robert Morris University, University of Washington, Roosevelt University, Virginia Wesleyan College, and the University of Toledo.


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With colleges continuing to turn to executive search firms to find new leaders, Witt/Kieffer has bulked up its education search sector practice with the addition of four new industry experts. Charlene Aguilar joined as a consultant in South Bend, IN. She formerly served as associate director of the annual fund at the University of Chicago Law School, as director of undergraduate admissions at Santa Clara and as school relations counselor for undergraduate recruitment at the University of California at Santa Barbara. Jennifer Desjarlais joined Witt/Kieffer as a consultant where she supports leadership searches across all academic areas, specializing in enrollment and admissions for colleges and universities across the nation. She had been the dean of admission and financial aid at Wellesley College. Melissa Fincher, based in Columbus, OH, joined as an associate in the firm’s education practice. She previously held the role of talent and organizational development consultant with Ohio State University. Ben Haden was named a senior associate at Witt/Kieffer and works from the firm’s San Diego office. Previously, he served as an executive recruiter for the University of California.

“This is a historic time for Witt/Kieffer’s education practice. The industry is undergoing great change and we have a steadfast commitment to the education sector and to our clients,” said Charles W.B. Wardell, president and CEO.

Contributed by Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor, Hunt Scanlon Media

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