November 16, 2020 – Academic Search, an education-focused executive recruitment firm, has been selected to find the next president for Saint Elizabeth University (SEU) in Morristown, NJ. Leading the assignment are: Jay Lemons, president and senior consultant; Maya Ranchod Kirkhope, VP for consulting services and senior consultant; Jennifer Kooken, consultant; and Kate L. Cusimano, associate consultant.
The university’s current leader, Helen J. Streubert, announced in September that she would be retiring at the end of the academic year. SEU’s first lay president, Dr. Streubert has been in the role for seven years.
“The next president of Saint Elizabeth University will be a mission-driven, entrepreneurial leader who will be able to advance innovation and strengthen the institution for long-term success, while embracing the rich heritage and values of the institution and continuing the spirit of community and family that abounds on campus,” said Academic Search.
SEU’s president has an array of responsibilities, the foremost being to provide distinguished and trusted leadership. “The next president will be forward-thinking, with a demonstrated ability to advance innovation while embracing the rich heritage of the institution and the values of the sponsoring religious congregation,” said the search firm. “The president must engage the entire community in reflecting and planning for the future of the institution, while embracing diversity in thought and action, and model a life of intellectual achievement, as well as inclusion within the Catholic identity and spirit of the institution.”
Excellent communication among the senior administration, faculty and staff, as well as instilling a greater spirit of teamwork, information-sharing, mutual respect, trust and transparency in decision-making, are essential components of the role. Also, the president should inculcate a commitment to developing graduates who are steeped in the tradition of service to others, especially the underserved.
Strengthening enrollment; raising funds and allocating resources; developing strong external partnerships; advocating for diversity, equity and inclusion; upgrading technology; and improving facilities will also loom large in the new president’s responsibilities.
Candidates should have a strong appreciation of the distinctive values and mission of the university and its Catholic heritage, and the spirit of its founders, the Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth, all creating SEU’s rich history of traditions, said academic search. The right candidate will be a person of integrity and compassion, with a commitment to service and social justice, encouraging these qualities in students.
Prospects must also have an understanding of the issues affecting higher education institutions (e.g., access and affordability, innovation, change management, and the importance of enrollment management in a tuition-driven budget environment).
A keen financial acumen and entrepreneurialism in generating and using resources strategically is essential for the role, as is the ability to build successful connections with external constituencies and partners, including donor relations and fundraising, said Academic Search.
Founded in 1899 by the Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth, Saint Elizabeth University has a strong tradition of concern for the poor, for developing leadership in a spirit of service and social responsibility, and a commitment to the promotion of women as full partners in society. SEU has a total enrollment of 1,272 students, 569 of whom are traditional undergraduates, 486 graduate students and 217 students in continuing studies.
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.
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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. Kirkhope has worked in higher education for the past 20 years and specifically with presidents and governing boards for the past 10 years. She has extensive knowledge of the culture of public and private higher education, academic governance, and good board management and practices at colleges and universities. Since joining Academic Search, Ms. Kirkhope has conducted dozens of searches for public, private and international institutions, from dean to president.
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.
Ms. Cusimano joined Academic Search last year. She has been involved in a variety of searches for both public and private institutions, inclusive of those with Carnegie R1 and R2 Research Classifications. These searches have included presidencies, provosts and other cabinet-level vice presidencies, and deans of academic units. Ms. Cusimano previously worked at Drexel University as the director of academic advising at the College of Computing and Informatics.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media