Witt/Kieffer Tapped by University of Illinois to Lead Provost Search

April 10, 2017 – Academic institutions continue to turn to executive recruiters for leadership guidance. The latest: the University of Illinois has selected Witt/Kieffer to lead its search for a new provost for its Urbana campus. The recruiting firm, one of nine under contract by the Illinois Public Higher Education Cooperative to perform administrative, academic and medical searches, will be paid $121,600 plus expenses to conduct the assignment.

Chancellor Robert Jones said earlier this year that he intended to use a recruiting firm to help the provost’s search committee find a replacement for Ed Feser, who left the school last month. Library dean John Wilkin is serving as interim provost while Witt/Kieffer conducts the search.

Mr. Jones told members of the senate executive committee that he had selected 13 people for the provost’s search committee, including students, faculty and staff elected by the Academic Senate last month as well as his own appointees. The school hopes to have a new provost in place by the fall. The incoming provost will advance the university’s academic mission by providing guidance, support and oversight to the colleges and university library.

Founded in 1867 as a land grant institution in the twin cities of Champaign and Urbana (together known as Champaign-Urbana), it is the flagship campus of the University of Illinois system and a founding member of the Big Ten Conference. Various college rankings put Illinois among the top 50 universities in the world, and one of the top five engineering schools globally.


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Witt/Kieffer is one of nine firms under contract by the Illinois Public Higher Education Cooperative, including the UI, for administrative, academic or medical searches. The search firm assists hospitals, health systems, academic medical centers, medical schools and physician groups; biotech, pharmaceutical, diagnostics and medical device companies; colleges & universities and not-for-profit community service and cultural organizations with senior administrative recruiting assignments.

The Hunt for University Talent

Witt/Kieffer is currently leading provost searches for American University of Sharjah, Eastern Illinois University, and Mary Baldwin University. But they’re not alone. The hunt for university leadership has been heating up — especially the search for provosts and chancellors.

In February, Wheless Partners was retained by Texas Tech University to lead its search for a new provost. Michael Galyean, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources, is currently serving as the school’s interim provost. Mike (JR) Wheless is leading the assignment. The selected provost will combine character, integrity and trustworthiness, according to the university, with an exceptional array of skills, abilities and the vision, initiative, passion and energy to make an impact.

Academic Search was recently tapped by California State University Channel Islands (CI) to lead its search for a provost. Senior consultant Dr. Ann Die Hasselmo is leading the assignment. Emory’s search committee is looking for visionaries to make it the go-to place for policymakers, students and researchers.

Heidrick & Struggles was also recently retained by Emory University to fill the college’s provost / chief academic officer position. Emory’s search committee is looking for a visionary to make it the go-to place for policymakers, students and researchers. The provost search advisory committee — co-chaired by professors Carol Anderson and Carlos del Rio — is working with search consultants from Heidrick to identify a slate of experienced candidates for Emory’s seventh provost and chief academic officer.

Isaacson, Miller has taken on the chancellor search for The University of California, Davis. Past chancellor Linda P. B. Katehi resigned amid allegations that she used university money to eliminate negative online search results about the institution.

Executive search firm Greenwood / Asher & Associates just placed Robert Jones as chancellor of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). With more than 30 years of experience in public higher education, Mr. Jones came the University at Albany, State University of New York (SUNY) where he served as president.

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

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