AGB Search Tapped by Mount Saint Mary College to Find New President

January 3, 2024 – Academic institutions continue to pump big fees into the coffers of executive search firms nationwide. Many academic recruiting specialists say business has never been better. Even smaller recruiting outfits have multiple assignments running concurrently, all at the senior levels. With so much activity, it seems, talent demand is far outstripping the supply.

In recent months, a number of top schools have announced that they are looking for new, high-profile leaders to take them into new eras of fundraising, digitalization, sports and, in some cases, globalization. Some universities that are looking for new leaders after a long spell without turnover are discovering a vastly different and highly competitive landscape. It is all the more reason for institutions of higher learning to turn to recruiters for help.

Washington, D.C.-based recruitment firm AGB Search, which specializes in higher education leadership assignments, has been retained by Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh, NY, to lead in its search for a new president. Current president Jason Adsit announced that he has decided not to seek a renewal when his current contract expires at the end of the 2023-24 academic year. Melissa K. Trotta, Matthew J. Kilcoyne, and Dawn Overstreet are leading the assignment.

The president is Mount Saint Mary College’s CEO and the chief ambassador of the college, reporting to the board of trustees. With a commitment to the process of shared governance, the president is responsible for strategic planning and management of the academic, personnel, fiscal, and student life policies and operations of the college. “The president and the board of trustees advance the interests of Mount Saint Mary College by staying true to the college’s Catholic and Dominican mission and working effectively with faculty, administration and staff, students, alumni, local and regional community leaders, and donors,” the search firm said. The new president will both honor the college’s traditions while also reinvigorating Mount Saint Mary College and renewing it to a position of visibility and strength in the Hudson Valley region and in the broader higher education landscape.

The successful candidate will possess a demonstrated record of transformational leadership at an institution or organization of comparable size, scope, and complexity. Candidates must demonstrate the highest integrity and ethical standards with strong interpersonal, collaboration, and communication skills.

The eighth permanent president of Mount Saint Mary College will be a dynamic and inclusive leader with an understanding of the challenges facing 21st century higher education. The president will passionately embrace and promote the school’s mission, values, and identity as a Catholic Dominican college in the liberal arts tradition. The right candidate must have strong financial acumen, a record of accomplishment at the executive level, and a demonstrated commitment to external resource development.

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

Mount Saint Mary College is an independent, coeducational institution in the Catholic and Dominican traditions committed to providing students with a liberal arts education to prepare them for lives of leadership and service. Founded in 1959 by the Dominican Sisters of Newburgh, their four Pillars – study, community, service, and spirituality – continue to be a blueprint for the school’s mission. Today, approximately 1,650 full- and part-time undergraduate and graduate students attend the school’s traditional and non-traditional academic offerings across the liberal arts and sciences as well as professional and pre-professional programs.

Serving Colleges and Universities

AGB Search 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.


Recruitment of Academia Presidents Rising
Reduced state funding, rising tuition costs, soaring student debt and decreased federal research funding have all contributed to a dramatic rise in the role search firms are playing in the recruitment of university presidents and chancellors.


Dr. Trotta joined AGB Search as associate managing principal in 2017. She 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 has partnered with institutions on searches for presidents, chief financial officers, chief information officers, deans, provosts, executive vice presidents/chief operating officers, and vice presidents and vice provosts for enrollment management, finance and administration, institutional research and university registrar services.

Mr. Kilcoyne joined AGB Search as a principal in January 2023. He has over 20 years of higher-education executive search experience, having completed over 250 searches. His search assignments for presidents, vice presidents and deans have focused on search committee and board relations; institutional analysis; marketing, candidate identification, recruitment, and evaluation; candidate due diligence; and selection and transition.

Dr. Overstreet joined AGB Search as a search consultant in 2022. She has over 20 years of experience at four (public and private) universities in positions within the offices of the president, provost, dean, and VP for student development. Included in these positions, she served as the assistant vice president of student development and associate vice president of mission and ministry at Loyola University Chicago.

Related: AGB Search Seeks Leaders for a Range of Key Higher Education Slots

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Executive Editor; Lily Fauver, Senior Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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