September 8, 2016 – Executive search firm AGB Search has been selected by Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) to lead its search for a new president. Robert Holyer Ph.D., senior consultant at AGB Search, is leading the assignment.
Founded in 1849 as New Britain Normal School, CCSU is Connecticut’s oldest publicly funded university. It is made up of four schools: the Ammon College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences; the School of Business; the School of Education and Professional Studies; and the School of Engineering, Science, and Technology. The university is attended by over 12,000 students and is part of the Connecticut State University System. Together, they maintain a student body of over 34,000.
Central’s president oversees a broad portfolio of responsibilities. The post serves as the institution’s chief executive officer who is accountable to the president of the CSCU board of regents. The incumbent will work collaboratively with fellow presidents of 16 universities and colleges within the CSCU system.
The incoming president will work in concert with other senior leaders on campus to develop campus-wide policies in support of system objectives. He or she will direct the activities of administrative staff, provide stewardship over university resources, enhance Central’s instructional and student support programs, facilitate research and scholarship, foster relations with alumni and the public, and serve as the face of the institution to internal and external constituencies.
Finding Top Flight Academic Talent a Tall Order
The ideal candidate, according to the position specs drawn up, will have a doctorate or other terminal degree in an academic field, a record of successful leadership and administration in higher education, experience working within a system of public higher education, and a commitment to shared governance and experience working in a collective-bargaining environment.
It is a tall order, but in some respects something that search firms specializing in the sector have now come to expect: Searching for academic leadership is now akin to searching for leaders for any business enterprise.
As such, as the new academic year begins, colleges and universities continue to turn to executive search firms to fill their most senior level roles. And search firms have stepped up, with some 150 recruiting specialist outfits now serving just the academia sector alone.
“Today, there are scores of search firms that serve the academic sector, which given the direction higher education has taken with its leadership and human capital, does not surprise me,” said Emily Parker Myers, CEO of Myers McRae, a firm that has conducted hundreds of searches for leaders in public and private universities and colleges across the U.S.
“Higher education search is similar to corporate search in that we both seek candidates that meet our clients’ specific requirements for a position. Corporate search consultants work mostly with the company’s human resources office and they only bring a prospect to the company who meets the position’s requirements exactly,” Ms. McRae explained. “In higher education search, we work primarily with an appointed search committee. The members usually represent different areas of the institution, trustees, students, alumni, and sometimes even the community.”
While meeting the job requirements is important, she said, “academic searches are more flexible because the qualifications are only part of the ‘fit’ at an institution and its mission.” Colleges and universities, she added, “are more open to reviewing candidates who may not have every qualification, but bring important strengths to the opportunity.”
AGB Search, which focuses exclusively on higher education leadership, conducts executive searches for college and university presidents, chancellors, provosts, vice presidents, deans, university system heads, and CEOs of coordinating boards and related foundations.
The firm recently placed presidents at Sierra Nevada College, Western Connecticut State University and the University of the District of Columbia.
Contributed by Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor, Hunt Scanlon Media