May 3, 2021 – Anthem Executive has been retained by the Texas State University System (TSUS) to lead the president search for Lamar University (LU) in Beaumont. Leading the assignment are Scott Watson, Michael Ballew and Florene Stawowy, supported by Mike JR Wheless and John Rudley. Current president Kenneth Evans announced in January that he would be stepping down, effective June 30, after eight years in the role. Last month, he was named president of Oklahoma City University. An advisory search committee, made up of Lamar university faculty, staff, and student and community representatives, has been working with Anthem Executive to draft a presidential profile and conduct a national search for Lamar University’s next leader. The goal is to identify a small number of qualified candidates to recommend to Dr. McCall for his review and consideration, said the university.
The chancellor will select a sole finalist to recommend for approval by the TSUS board of regents, most likely in June. Lamar University wants a visionary, energetic leader who is innovative, collaborative and student centered. The individual should also be fully appreciate the LU legacy, and lead the university to new levels of achievement and success, said Anthem Executive.
The next president will be expected to bring the leadership skills necessary to advance the vision of Lamar University and improve the quality of life for the citizens of Beaumont and the region by increasing educational attainment, providing avenues for personal and work-related growth, and offering a means to succeed in the global economy, said the search firm.
The new leader must also build partnerships and collaborate for the well-being of the university, its sister TSUS institutions in the region, including Lamar Institute of Technology, Lamar State College Orange, Lamar State College Port Arthur, the Texas State University System, the community, and the state of Texas.
An Accomplished Leader
Lamar University wants an accomplished leader with the personal strength and demeanor to lead the university forward through the complexities and challenges of the COVID pandemic, recurring natural disasters and other crises and opportunities, said the search firm. Proven competence with budgeting and management of institutional resources is essential. Candidates should recognize the importance of shared governance, transparency, and be genuine in acting and making decisions with collective input.
The right candidate will be growth-minded, innovative, community-oriented with a current knowledge of national higher education and workforce preparation issues. He or she should have a demonstrated understanding of, and leadership in a diverse cultural, racial and ethnic campus community. The individual must have a charismatic and personable leadership style with a history of working collaboratively with others in the decision-making process. Also required is significant experience as a leader of a major complex organization, including a distinguished record of leadership and intellectual achievement, and excellence in fiscal responsibility. An earned doctorate or terminal degree is preferred for the role.
Lamar University enrolls more than 17,500 students and in 2020 graduated a record number of students (more than 5,000). In 2020-2021 the university achieved record enrollments in both fall and spring. As a national leader in digital learning, Lamar University is well-versed in all aspects of online education. LU currently has more than 9,000 online learners with more than 50 areas of study from which to choose.
Anthem Executive, headquartered in Houston, serves clients across a range of business sectors, including higher education, health sciences, corporate and non-profit institutions, global software and technology, private equity, insurance, service and manufacturing, oil and gas, and others. Its consultants bring a combined 80 years’ experience in the search industry. The firm’s higher education practice spans the entire leadership spectrum. In other sectors, Anthem Executive covers all roles from CEO and other C-suite leaders, board directors, vice president and director, and others.
How Anthem Executive Powered Throughout COVID-19 and into 2021
When the COVID-19 crisis began more than a year ago, one search firm, Anthem Executive, encouraged its clients to take advantage of a rare moment when most ongoing and new recruitments efforts were being paused or shut down completely due to growing concerns over the pandemic. The recruitment provider said it saw this window of time as an opportunity to recruit talent.
“We continuously look for competitive advantages for our clients, including in the recruitment of talent,” said co-founder Mike J.R. Wheless. “When nearly every university and college in the country paused recruitment, we saw it as an opportune time to encourage our clients to recruit. Our philosophy was that if a client waits until COVID-19 is over they will once again be in the ongoing recruiting war for top, diverse talent, and come up against a significant recruitment backlog that will resume, in addition to the pent-up demand of new recruitments that will commence.”
Mr. Watson has been in the executive search industry for over 30 years. In addition to higher education institutions, he has served hospital/health systems, global software and technology companies, private equity enterprises, MCOs, insurance companies, service and manufacturing organizations with global footprints, and others.
Mr. Ballew, a registered Native American and member of the Echota Cherokee Tribe, serves as the firm’s chief diversity, inclusion, equity, and compliance officer, as well as search committee facilitator. He joined the executive search industry 14 years ago following a 20-plus year career in senior-level management with expertise in recruiting, counseling, training, operations, strategic planning, facilitation, project management and workplace diversity.
Ms. Stawowy, who has been in executive search for over 20 years, is a core member of the higher education and academic health practice. Over the last two decades, she has developed deep expertise in senior‐level search, having been charged with numerous executive leadership transitions with a particular emphasis on higher education and academic health search.
Mr. Wheless, a veteran of more than two decades in the search industry, has served a broad portfolio of clients across many industry lines on behalf of organizations ranging from small operations to Fortune $100 billion plus enterprises – including working with and recruiting some of the nation’s most influential leadership.
Dr. Rudley has been a chancellor, president and VP of finance and administration. He has served in roles with enrollment of over 200,000 to leading the second largest HBCU in the country. He specializes is presidential, finance academic affairs and operational roles.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media