Academic Search Recruits CEO for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities

December 6, 2023 – Jay Lemons, Jennifer Kooken, and Maria Thompson of education-focused executive recruiter Academic Search has recruited Charles L. Welch as its new president and CEO of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU). After five years of service, the current president, Mildred García, has stepped down. “We are thrilled to welcome Chuck Welch as the new president and CEO of AASCU,” said Ronald S. Rochon, chair of the AASCU board of directors, president of the University of Southern Indiana, and co-chair of the AASCU presidential search committee. “He stood out for his exceptional vision, strategic mindset, and deep commitment to AASCU’s mission and values. We believe his dynamic leadership will drive our association to new heights in service to the 3.2 million diverse students AASCU educates.”

“In many ways, we are at a tipping point in higher education,” said Heidi M. Anderson, president of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, immediate past chair of the AASCU board of directors, and co-chair of the AASCU presidential search committee. “Now, more than ever, we need strong leadership and a valued voice at AASCU to represent a diverse and important cross section of students in U.S. higher education. Dr. Welch received the board’s unanimous support. I’m delighted by his appointment and pledge my support to Dr. Welch to help him represent all of us.”

Mr. Welch has served as president of AASCU member Arkansas State University System since April 2011 and as chair of the AASCU board of directors from 2019–2021. He is also past president of Henderson State University (AR). Mr. Welch possesses extensive experience and proven leadership in higher education. He is past president of the Arkansas Association of Two-Year Colleges and served as chairman of the board of the Arkansas Association of Public Universities. Mr. Welch is vice chair of the American Academic Leadership Institute board of directors and serves on the board of directors of the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems. He serves as executive sponsor of AASCU’s New Presidents Academy and Emerging Leaders Program.

“America’s regional public colleges and universities are on the frontlines of transforming public higher education, driving civic engagement, and contributing to thriving local communities,” said Mr. Welch. “It’s an honor to join AASCU at a time when regional comprehensive universities are poised to make a critical impact. They serve our country’s fastest-growing demographics—from students of color and first-generation students to adult learners and transfer students—and create pathways to social and economic mobility. I look forward to working collaboratively with the board, the AASCU staff, and our dedicated members to continue the vital work of telling the story of public higher education—and moving our sector forward.”

Related: Academic Search Recruits 18th President for Saint Michael’s College

Based in Washington, D.C., AASCU is a higher education association of 350 public colleges, universities, and systems whose member institutions advance social mobility for students of all backgrounds, positively impacting them, their families, and their communities for generations to come. Offering more than 3 million students each year an affordable, high-quality college education— particularly those from lower-income families, first-generation college students, and/or students of color—AASCU institutions are stewards of their communities, powering economic growth and preparing graduates.

Higher Education Consultants

For over three decades, Academic Search has been a leader in designing and implementing search processes for leaders of colleges and universities across the country. The firm has completed hundreds of executive searches for higher education institutions and related organizations, for roles ranging from presidents to provosts to deans. Academic Search has a formal relationship to a premier leadership development program. As the subsidiary of the American Academic Leadership Institute (AALI), the firm provides substantial financial support to a number of leadership identification, development, and support programs across all sectors of public and private higher education. The firm is headquartered in Washington, D.C.

Academic Search Seeks President for Saint Michael’s College
Academic Search was recently selected by Saint Michael’s College to lead its search for its 18th president. Lorraine Sterritt recently announced she was stepping down after becoming the first woman to lead the college. Ideally, the college’s next president will be person of faith with a deep respect and enthusiasm for the Catholic faith and intellectual tradition, the Edmundites and their focus on social justice and service, and for stewarding these fundamental elements of the college’s identity, said the search firm. This individual should be a visionary leader with high energy and passion for the mission of Saint Michael’s, as well as an enthusiastic advocate for the college, ready for active and deep engagement in the campus community, in the Burlington region, and beyond. The president must also be a wise leader with financial acumen and the ability to allocate, steward, and grow resources – including enrollment, fundraising, and the diversification of revenue streams – in support of the mission of Saint Michael’s College.

Dr. Lemons has been president of Academic Search since 2017, after serving for 25 years as a college president in both public and private higher education. A recognized leader in the academy, he has been particularly devoted to supporting leadership talent by working with new college presidents on the faculty of the new presidents’ programs of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities and the Council of Independent Colleges and through the professional development programs for aspiring leaders of the American Academic Leadership Institute. Dr. Lemons was president of Susquehanna University from 2001 to 2017, and prior to that served as chancellor of the University of Virginia’s (UVA) College at Wise, UVA’s public liberal arts college in southwestern Virginia.

Ms. Kooken, consultant, joined Academic Search from Merrimack College, where she served as director of business school initiatives. Prior to that, Ms. Kooken collaborated with academic administrators and clients to develop engaging professional development programs for the Graduate Management Admission Council. She began her career in higher education as assistant director of graduate admissions for Babson College.

Dr. Thompson also serves as senior executive coach. She is a career educator with a distinguished history of leadership in higher education. She has been president and CEO of Coppin State University, provost and vice president for academic affairs at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Oneonta, and vice president for research and sponsored program at Tennessee State University, among other roles.

Related: Academic Search Recruits President for Norwich University

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Executive Editor; Lily Fauver, Senior Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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