Academic Search Seeks President for Roanoke College

December 8, 2021 – Education-focused executive recruiter Academic Search has been charged with finding the next president for Roanoke College in Salem, VA. Leading the assignment are Jay Lemons, president and senior consultant;  Sharon D. Herzberger, senior consultant; and  Jennifer Kooken, consultant.

Michael C. Maxey, the longest serving president in the college’s history, announced in September that he would be retiring at the end of the academic year. Mr. Maxey has held the role since 2007.

From the outset, the new president will be expected to build upon the college’s existing priorities, leading the campus in creating an ambitious plan for the school’s future, said Academic Search. Working in collaboration with the board of trustees, the faculty, staff and other constituents, this leader will have the responsibility of setting a course that recognizes and adapts to changing trends in higher education, including students’ financial and demographic characteristics. “Through data-driven decision-making and employing metrics to propel accountability, the president will establish priorities to build upon the college’s financial strengths, diversifying revenue to reduce tuition dependency,” said Academic Search.

In collaboration with faculty and staff, the individual must also identify innovative academic and student life programming designed to grow enrollment and support student success through graduation and well beyond. He or she must also demonstrate success in fundraising and in generating loyalty among both alumni and students. Among priority goals for new resources are funds for faculty and staff compensation, academic programming, scholarships, refurbishment of residence halls, and successful completion of the new science center.

Key Qualifications

Roanoke College’s next president will be expected to embrace the institution’s liberal arts and sciences identity and mission, yet also be eager to model and lead innovation to meet students’ needs and aspirations and to build on the college’s reputation. He or she should exhibit a strategic and entrepreneurial mindset, with extensive experience setting priorities and seizing opportunities.

The right candidate will also possess a sophisticated understanding of the complex changes anticipated in higher education and displays a readiness to act, said Academic Search. The individual must demonstrate a transparent, collaborative, consensus-building, and approachable leadership style, one that values and practices shared governance. Experience in working with governing boards and community and business leaders is essential.

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

The new leader must also have the ability to gain the trust of faculty and other constituencies, possess exceptional financial acumen and value diversity in all its manifestations and models inclusivity.

Roanoke College, founded in 1842, is an independent, residential, liberal arts college. The college enrolls about 1,900 undergraduate students. New students in the 2020-21 academic year included 465 first-year and 65 transfer students. The 128 full-time and 63 part-time faculty are committed to student success and 95 percent of the tenured/tenure-track faculty hold the highest degree possible in their field. Roanoke offers 96 areas of study in the full range of liberal arts and sciences disciplines, cross-disciplinary programs, as well as programs to prepare students for careers in the health professions.

Higher Education 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. 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. 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.

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. 

Dr. Herzberger served as president of Whittier College for 13 years, before retiring and being named president emerita. During her prior career, at Northwestern University and Trinity College, she held positions as vice president for planning and administration, vice president for student services, associate vice president for a capital campaign, and special assistant to the president for affirmative action. As a professor of psychology her research focused on the biases in individual and group decision-making.

Ms. Kooken 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.

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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