Academic Search Seeks President for Council of Independent Colleges

January 8, 2021 – Education-focused executive recruiter Academic Search has been selected to find the next president for the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) in Washington, D.C. Leading the assignment are senior consultant Ann Die Hasselmo, president and senior consultant Jay Lemons and consultant Jennifer Kooken.

Richard Ekman, who led the organization for 20 years, announced last fall that he would be retiring in July.

“The next president will be an entrepreneurial leader and a national spokesperson for the cause of independent higher education, supporting member institutions during a dynamic time,” said Academic Search.

CIC’s next president will lead an accomplished and diverse staff of 25 full-time (with one part-time) staff members. Twenty-five senior advisors are appointed on a contractual basis to support specific CIC programs and member services.

A Leading Voice

The organization’s new leader will be expected to celebrate the unique contributions of independent higher education, while nimbly addressing both near- and long-term opportunities for CIC and its members, said the search firm. The individual must embrace the excellence and diversity among the membership and meet collective needs through ever more effective programs and services focused on timely issues. He or she will serve as the leading voice for the sector in an era of increased skepticism about the value of college and concern about changing demographics, rising costs and student debt.

The CIC president role also calls for convening institutional leaders in authentic and difficult conversations around the most critical issues facing the sector in order to enable solutions that benefit everyone; working with funders to increase the resources available to members; and advancing partnerships among member institutions, higher education associations, foundations and other philanthropic organizations to generate new opportunities for independent colleges and universities.

The new president will be expected to have a history of distinguished leadership in higher education and the gravitas to represent the robust, diverse membership of CIC with credibility, passion and conviction, said Academic Search. The new leader must also have a demonstrated passion for and history of success in independent higher education. A commitment to and record of advocating for diversity, equity and inclusion is also critical.

Related: Why Universities Have Stepped Up Efforts to Involve Search Firms

The Council of Independent Colleges is an association of nearly 700 nonprofit independent colleges and universities, 27 state-based councils of independent colleges, and more than 50 other higher education affiliates. Through an evolving agenda of programs and services responsive to member needs, CIC has worked since 1956 to support college and university leadership, advance institutional excellence, and enhance public understanding of the important contributions made by independent higher education to society.

Respected Recruiters

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.

Dr. Hasselmo is president emerita of the AALI in Washington, D.C. and of Hendrix College. Prior to becoming the founding president of AALI, she was managing director of Academic Search Consultation Service. Her earlier career in higher education administration spanned positions from faculty leadership to the presidency. Dr. Hasselmo’s experience includes work at both public and private colleges and universities. She has also held a variety of chairs and presidencies of national higher education boards and associations.

Academic Search Recruits President for United Lutheran Seminary
Following an extensive search, Academic Search has assisted the United Lutheran Seminary (ULS) in the placement of Rev. Dr. R. Guy Erwin as its next president. Bishop Erwin succeeds interim president, the Rev. Dr. Angela Zimmann. Bishop Erwin, the fourth bishop of the Southwest California Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), is the first openly gay male to serve in that office in the churches of the Lutheran World Federation. 

Mr. Lemons has served as 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 (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.

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.

Related: Academic Search Recruits President for Norwich University

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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