June 14, 2021 – Following a national search, Lamar University (LU) has named Jaime R. Taylor, who serves as the provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Marshall University, as the school’s next president. Leading the assignment were Anthem Executive’s 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.
“I want to thank LU alumni regent Bill Scott and regent David Montagne for co-chairing a successful search, as well as regents Duke Austin and Alan Tinsley for their active participation, and all the other members of the search committee for their time and thoughtful consideration during the search process,” said chancellor Brian McCall. “Dr. Taylor is an innovative, student-centered leader who understands the power of collaborating with community leaders and industry to leverage the full resources of a doctoral-granting university for the benefit of the region and state, and I’m confident he’ll be able to lead Lamar to new levels of achievement and success.”
Dr. Taylor has served since 2018 as provost and senior vice president for academic affair at Marshall University, where he has led initiatives to increase first-year retention and graduation rates and align academic programs with critical community and workforce needs.
Dr. Taylor previously served as interim provost and vice president for academic affairs at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, TN, where he spent most of his career as a faculty member in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. He earned an associate of applied science degree in industrial engineering technology from Nashville State Technical Institute, a bachelor’s degree in physics and mathematics from Austin Peay State University, and a master’s degree and doctorate in engineering science from the University of Tennessee Space Institute.
“I could not be more excited about joining Lamar University and for the opportunity to work with chancellor McCall,” said Dr. Taylor. “I was extremely pleased to see that Lamar University’s strategic plan reflects my passion for student success, retention, and creating career-ready and life-long learners who can find success after they graduate. I am eager to learn from the faculty, staff, students, alumni and members of the Beaumont community of their vision for what is next for Lamar University and to determine how we can work together to ensure that vision becomes a reality.”
Lamar University has an enrollment of 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