Academic Search Assists with Ivy League Leadership Searches

New Cornell University Counsel Selected; Dartmouth Next

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 8, 2017 — Academic Search, Inc., celebrated its 40th anniversary of conducting higher education leadership searches in 2016. Now it starts 2017 by celebrating some Ivy League successes.

On February 1st, Cornell University announced that it was appointing Madelyn F. Wessel as the next University Counsel and Secretary of the Corporation. Academic Search’s Vice President & Senior Consultant William F. Howard led the search process, which took over a year because of the untimely and tragic death of Cornell’s prior president, Elizabeth Garrett. In November 2016, Cornell named Martha Pollack as its next President, to begin in April 2017.

Madelyn Wessel, University Counsel at Virginia Commonwealth University, will be the first woman to hold the position of University Counsel & Secretary at Cornell once she begins on May 8. Her appointment will result in a majority of the Ivy League universities having female general counsels.

Since 2014 Wessel has been in charge of legal affairs at VCU, Virginia’s largest urban public research institution, with 30,000 students and 13 schools, including five health sciences schools affiliated with the VCU Health System, and a School for the Arts in Doha, Qatar. She revamped VCU’s Title IX and Equal Employment Opportunity programs, and helped to lead other institutional reform projects, including an in-process transformation of the university’s personnel systems and the development of VCU’s new private investment company that manages funds from both the university, affiliated foundations and its health system.

Before joining VCU, Wessel served in various legal leadership capacities for the University of Virginia from 2001–14, including as associate general counsel. At UVA her practice areas included intellectual property, internet law, research, faculty affairs, civil rights and more. Prior to launching her career in higher education, Wessel served as chief deputy city attorney in the Portland, Oregon, city attorney’s office, focusing on constitutional, civil rights, affirmative action, employment, public contracting, fair housing and general government law.

As the Cornell search was concluding, Academic Search and William Howard were beginning to assist their next Ivy League client, Dartmouth College, with its search for a General Counsel, after the announced retirement of Robert Donin, who has served in that role for over 16 years.

Donin, who had previously served Harvard University, among other earlier roles, plans to retire at the end of June.

About Academic Search

Academic Search is an executive search firm exclusively focused on higher education, and related associations and professional societies.  The firm is based in Washington, DC. Among many other searches, the firm recently completed searches for the Secretary/CEO of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, and for the president of Kansas State University.   Its 19 senior consultants are currently conducting searches for over 63 presidents, provosts, vice presidents, deans and other higher education leaders.

Shawn Hartman
Vice President

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