AGB Search Seeks Provost for St. John’s University

May 6, 2019 – Washington, D.C.-based recruitment firm AGB Search has been chosen to find the next provost and vice president for academic affairs for St. John’s University in New York City. Melissa K. Trotta, associate managing principal, and Roderick J. McDavis, managing principal, are leading the assignment.

As chief academic officer of the university, the provost and vice president for academic affairs is charged with providing academic vision and leadership to foster academic excellence and fulfill St. John’s University’s Catholic and Vincentian mission, said AGB Search. The provost reports directly to the president and oversees all academic schools, colleges and programs; faculty affairs; and a variety of academic support functions for the university.

The scope of the role includes more than 21,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students; a budget of more than $250 million; nearly 1,500 faculty (full and part time); and 20 staff members/administrators, said the search firm. The provost is expected to be a visible leader both on and off campus, with an impressive record of scholarship and teaching. The individual must be experienced in change management within a complex institution and inspired by the goal of moving St. John’s University to the next level of excellence while honoring the school’s mission as a Catholic, Vincentian, metropolitan and global institution.

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The provost is charged with providing St. John’s schools, colleges and the Division of Student Affairs with progressive academic and cocurricular leadership, vision and direction, said the search firm. The individual must also collaborate with the president and university leadership to provide outstanding care for students to ensure that the academic vision integrates with the university’s Catholic and Vincentian mission, while meeting fiscal responsibilities. He or she also serves as a member of the President’s Advisory Council and actively participates in all meetings and activities of the board of trustees and board of governors, among other responsibilities.

The Ideal Candidate

St. John’s University wants a proven leader, teacher and scholar with at least 10 years of progressive academic leadership or equivalent experience for the role, said AGB Search. The individual should also have achieved success in developing and executing academic strategies in a complex, comprehensive university, at the level of a sitting dean or more senior role. He or she should be a culturally literate person who supports and embraces the university’s Catholic and Vincentian mission and who has a deep commitment and a record of accomplishment in advancing diversity, equity and inclusion among students, faculty and staff.


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The ideal provost candidate will be a skilled administrator with the financial and business acumen to facilitate the allocation of resources effectively and efficiently among the competing and compelling needs of various areas within the institution, said the search firm. St. John’s wants a charismatic professional who engenders enthusiasm for strategic partnerships with other universities and corporations, and for philanthropy that supports the university’s academic enterprise, among other qualifications. A doctorate or other terminal degree is required.

Related: Academic Search Recruits Provost for Gonzaga University

Founded in 1870, St. John’s University is noted for its academic service-learning programs, which combine academics with opportunities to cultivate faith while engaging in service. The university offers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate programs in its six colleges and schools (St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, School of Education, the Peter J. Tobin College of Business, College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, College of Professional Studies and School of Law), with a growing number of programs offered online. The fall 2017 enrollment of 16,766 undergraduate students (including almost 5,000 high school students taking St. John’s college credits), and 4,580 graduate students represents 45 states and 116 countries. The university’s endowment is over $750 million.

Deep Experience

AGB Search, which specializes in higher education leadership, conducts searches for college and university presidents, chancellors, provosts, vice presidents, deans, university system heads and CEOs of coordinating boards and related foundations. The firm was founded by the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB) in 2010.

Dr. Trotta has spent more than 25 years in higher education administration at universities including Harvard, Georgetown and Johns Hopkins in leadership roles that spanned admissions and enrollment, program management, executive education, and strategic planning. She most recently served as a vice president at Neumann Executive Search Partners (formerly Brill Neumann Associates), where she engaged in strategic recruitment, research, business development, and client and candidate services for senior administrative and academic searches.

Dr. McDavis, former president of Ohio University, is responsible for leading and managing all components of AGB Search including executive search, interim search and compensation evaluation service. He is also responsible for developing new business opportunities for the firm and attending national higher education conferences to represent AGB Search. He also serves as an executive search consultant for some of the firm’s searches.

Related: Spencer Stuart Recruits Provost for American University

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

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