Buffkin / Baker Recruits Sixth President for Christopher Newport University

February 22, 2023 – Executive search firm Buffkin / Baker has recruited Rear Admiral William G. Kelly as the sixth president of Christopher Newport University (CNU). Leading the assignment were Martin M. Baker, managing partner and Chelsie Whitelockprincipal. Mr. Kelly was selected after a year-long rigorous, inclusive nationwide search. The board was unanimous in its decision, noting that Mr. Kelly’s life of public service and commitment to leadership, moral character, and honor mirror those same values at the heart of Christopher Newport. Mr. Kelly will take the helm of the university on July 1.

“Admiral Kelly is an inspired choice,” said chancellor Paul S. Trible, who led Christopher Newport for 26 years as president. “His life of public service embodies the principles of leadership, honor, and service that define the Christopher Newport experience and I am confident that CNU’s best days lie ahead.”

“President-select William Kelly exemplifies a life of distinguished service,” said rector Lindsey Carney Smith. “His dedication to the principles of scholarship, a life of purpose, and to student success makes him the perfect compassionate leader for Christopher Newport as the university begins its next chapter.”

A nationally respected educator and military leader, Mr. Kelly serves as the superintendent (president) of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, one of the nation’s five prestigious military service academies, where he is responsible for the education, development, and commissioning of officers in the U.S. Coast Guard. He oversees every aspect of the academic, athletic (NCAA Div. ), military, and civic development of a student body representing every state in the union. Under Kelly’s engaged leadership, the current student body is the most diverse to ever attend the academy.

“Rear Admiral Kelly is a selfless servant leader who continuously exemplifies the virtues of humility, integrity, insight, and inclusiveness,” said first class cadet Kaylon Farley, the regimental commander of the Corps of Cadets. “His commitment to equipping cadets to confront the challenges of the future has been demonstrated by his consistent engagement in their academic, athletic, and military endeavors. His legacy will impact generations of the United States Coast Guard for years to come. We wish him well in his next endeavor; the faculty, staff and students of Christopher Newport University are fortunate to have him as their next president.”

“Christopher Newport values scholarship, leadership, compassion, service, community – these same core values have guided me throughout my life and are closely aligned with the Academy I currently have the privilege of leading,” said Mr. Kelly. “Like Christopher Newport, the academy is dedicated to developing leaders of character who are well grounded in the sciences and humanities, and committed to a life of service and significance in their communities and the nation. I look forward to supporting and enhancing our academic, experiential, athletic and artistic excellence to ensure our students are ready for successful, consequential lives.”

Related: Buffkin / Baker Recruits General Counsel for the University of Missouri 

A four-year public university in Newport News, VA, Christopher Newport University enrolls 5,000 students in rigorous academic programs in the liberal arts and sciences through the College of Arts and Humanities, the College of Natural and Behavioral Sciences, the College of Social Sciences, and the Luter School of Business.

A Specialty Boutique Firm

Buffkin / Baker is a specialty boutique search firm composed of industry leaders in their respective fields and each has over a decade of retained search experience. Their focus as search professionals is to recruit leaders in digital marketing/advertising, technology, healthcare, media/entertainment, finance, higher education, and non-profit. The firm serves public, private, venture, and private equity-backed companies. Its office locations include Nashville, TN; New York; Washington, D.C.; and Winston Salem, NC, with affiliate offices in London.

Buffkin / Baker is a member of Panorama Search, an international federation of retained firms with 18 firms and over 30 offices globally. Buffkin / Baker formed in 2017 with the merger of the Buffkin Group and Baker and Associates LLC.

Recruiting Top-Notch Higher Education Leadership
In this brand new episode of ‘Talent Talks,’ Hunt Scanlon Media host Rob Adams is joined by Martin Baker, managing partner and Ken Carrick, partner from Buffkin Baker. Mr. Baker and Mr. Carrick take a deep dive into the current state of executive recruiting for the higher education sector and how this segment has been impacted by COVID-19. Listen Now!

Based in Winston Salem, NC, Mr. Baker has been in executive search for more than 22 years. In addition to his role as managing partner, he is also head of the firm’s higher education practice. He previously worked in the Atlanta office of Korn Ferry, where he developed search strategy and executed searches for numerous senior-level appointments.  He began his career as a research associate with Saxton Bampfylde, an executive search and management assessment firm in London. He has conducted searches for the positions of CEO, CFO, CIO, provost, dean, director, and professor, having worked on over 350 searches throughout his career.

Ms. Whitelock is a key member of the firm’s higher education practice. She joined the firm from Vanderbilt University where she had a number of roles, including overseeing the Chancellor’s Faculty Fellows Program, managing the administrative staff of the Faculty Senate Office, and leading the recruitment of staff within academic affairs. Prior to Vanderbilt, Ms. Whitelock was faculty recruitment manager in the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley.

Related: Buffkin / Baker Taps Chief Information and Technology Officer for CarePayment

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

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