Academic Search Seeks New President for California Lutheran University

April 20, 2020 – Education-focused executive recruiter Academic Search  has been enlisted to find the next president for California Lutheran University. Jay Lemons, president and senior consultant; Stuart Dorsey, senior consultant; and Jennifer Kooken, associate consultant, are leading the assignment.

Last fall, Chris Kimball, who has held the job for 12 years, announced that he would be stepping down at the end of the academic year. “The next president has an opportunity to build upon the impressive expansion and transformation of the university over the past decade,” said Academic Search.

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California Lutheran University, located in Thousand Oaks, CA, wants a strong president. Transformative leadership will be particularly important in the role. “The Cal Lutheran presidency is a rich opportunity for a leader who can leverage the institution’s resources and momentum,” said Academic Search. “The community is seeking an individual who can listen, set ambitious goals, be decisive and inspire the community into action.”

Job Responsibilities

The individual must be able to clarify, articulate and communicate strategic directions and priorities. The next president will lead an inclusive process that further defines and shapes the university’s identity and sets strategies for future growth and directions, said the search firm. The school’s next president must communicate the goals and priorities to the campus and external constituencies.

The new leader will be charged with expanding the university’s resource base, among other responsibilities. “Successful fundraising will be critical to realize the university’s potential,” said Academic Search. “Immediate needs are to complete funding for key academic facilities and to build the endowment for operations and financial aid. The next president will drive a comprehensive fundraising campaign that expands Cal Lutheran’s donor base. The university will remain tuition-dependent for the foreseeable future, so effective use of resources and growth in net tuition revenue are essential.”

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California Lutheran University next president must possess an earned advanced degree, and at least seven years’ significant and successful leadership experience.

Key Qualifications

The university highly desires that candidates have an appreciation for the culture and values of California Lutheran University, its liberal arts core, Lutheran values and the work of the church, and focus on supporting student success. They should also have: an understanding of the challenges and headwinds facing higher education institutions nationally; demonstrated success at leading complex organizations, preferably in higher education, with a record of leading growth, managing change and achieving sound fiscal management; and experience as a successful fundraiser, or clear evidence of enthusiasm for fundraising.

The strongest candidates will also have previous experience leading equity and inclusion initiatives as well as an open, engaging personality with the ability and desire to build relationships with students, faculty, staff, alumni and other institutional stakeholders.

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 is the only search firm in the nation with 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.

Respected Recruiters

Dr. Lemons became president of Academic Search in 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 (AALI). 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.

Dr. Dorsey was appointed president of Texas Lutheran University in 2011. Prior to that, he was associate professor of economics at West Virginia University; professor, department chair and academic dean at Baker University; vice president for academic affairs at the University of Evansville; and president of the University of Redlands. Dr. Dorsey also served for three years as chief economist for the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance, where he supported the work of the committee on fiscal policy, tax reform and trade.

Ms. Kooken joined the firm 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.

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor  – Hunt Scanlon Media

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