September 12, 2019 – With the new academic year underway, a number of colleges and universities across the country are opening searches that, if all goes to plan, will provide high-profile leaders to take them into a new era of fundraising, digitalization, sports and, increasingly the case, globalization.
This has made searching for academic leadership comparable to searching for leaders of any business enterprise, according to recruiters in the field. At a time when many academic leaders are retiring or leaving their posts to pursue other interests, the competition to replace them has grown intense. Executive search firms provide universities with guidance when filling these critical roles.
Recently, Oglethorpe University tapped Philadelphia-based Diversified Search to launch the hunt for its next president, who will now lead the institution following the 15-year tenure of Lawrence M. Schall. The search is being led by Lionel Anderson, managing director in the education, non-profit, and arts and culture practice, and senior managing director Kim Morrisson. Board of trustees chair Timothy P. Tassopoulos has named a search committee comprised of trustees, faculty, staff, student and alumni representatives.
“Selecting a president is one of the most important responsibilities of any board,” said Mr. Tassopoulos. “Oglethorpe is fortunate to have an engaged and active board that will make a selection during a time of significant growth and positive momentum for the university. Our goal is to select a person who will continue to strengthen Oglethorpe while staying true to our mission.”
Founded in 1835, Oglethorpe University is Atlanta’s only co-educational small private college, home to students from 33 states and 31 countries.
Diversified Search is the largest U.S. female-owned and -founded firm in the executive recruitment industry. It has additional offices in Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. Diversified is the U.S. partner of AltoPartners, an international alliance of 58 independent executive search firms that spans 35 countries across the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific.
Mr. Anderson partners with colleges, universities, foundations and non-profits to understand their leadership needs, prepare for leadership transition, and identify, vet, and onboard talent into executive leadership roles. Within higher education, he has focused on presidential searches. His previous clients include the Chemical Heritage Foundation, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, Morehouse College, New York University, Northeastern University, Smith College, Temple University, Tuskegee University and the University of Bridgeport.
Dr. Morrisson works in Diversified Search’s education, non-profit, and arts and culture practice. She has more than 20 years of experience conducting executive search assignments for research universities, liberal arts colleges, academic medical centers, non-profit associations, foundations, public agencies, independent secondary schools, and companies that serve the educational sector. Before joining Diversified, Dr. Morrisson served as vice provost of the University of Pennsylvania.
Turning to Search Firms
As universities continue to look for new leaders, executive search firms continue to step up. Here is a sampling of recent firms looking to find new leaders for top schools around the country from the Hunt Scanlon archives:
WittKieffer has been selected to find the next president for Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, IN. Leading the assignment are managing partner Robin Mamlet, consultant Sheila Murphy and senior associate Christine Pendleton. “The successful candidate will be an inspiring leader who can engage the college’s diverse community in further developing and executing a clear…”
R. William Funk & Associates, which specializes in recruitment for roles in higher education, has been selected by Rutgers University to find its next president. Robert L. Barchi recently told the board of governors that the 2019-2020 academic year will be his last as university president. R. William Funk, president of the Dallas-based recruitment firm, is leading the search. The search firm is hoping to find a candidate that can build on Mr. Barchi’s work.
Washington, D.C.-based recruitment firm AGB Search has been enlisted to find the next president for the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. Managing principal Roderick J. McDavis and consultants Sally Mason and Garry W. Owens are leading the assignment. President Hank Bounds, who has been president for four years, announced in March that he would be stepping down this summer.
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