Finalist Candidate Presented to University of Vermont for Top Post

February 8, 2019 – Executive recruitment firm Witt/Kieffer has presented Suresh Garimella as the finalist candidate to become president of the University of Vermont (UVM). Leading the search: Robin Mamlet, managing partner of the firm’s education practice, Dennis M. Barden, senior partner, and Robert W. Luke, senior associate.

UVM, which is located in Burlington, had been seeking a president who would continue to build a distinctive position and reputation for the university among the nation’s leading small research universities, said the search firm. The college wanted prospects to show a demonstrated record of advancing academic excellence in all respects, and of implementing a compelling and inspiring intellectual vision for UVM.

Dr. Garimella met that criteria according to sources. He is currently executive vice president for research and partnerships and a professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue University. His administrative experience at Purdue includes appointments as the chief global affairs officer and as associate vice president for engagement.

In 2010, the U.S. Department of State appointed Dr. Garimella to serve as a science advisor in the International Energy Office. He also served for six years as a senior fellow in the State Department’s Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas, and as the State Department delegate to the International Energy Agency. Dr. Garimella has a long list of honors and awards, including appointment as a member of the National Science Board. He is co-author of over 500 publications and 13 patents.

Time for a Look-See

“Dr. Garimella emerged as a compelling candidate whose accomplishments align with our collective vision for the presidential leader who will best serve, and continue to advance, our university in the years to come,” said David Daigle, co-chairperson of the president search committee and chair of UVM’s board of trustees. Following a campus visit, the board will decide if it has the confidence that Dr. Garimella will succeed in leading the university and authorize his appointment. Dr. Garimella will visit UVM next week for a series of meetings and open-forum interactions with constituency groups across the university.

Over 90 individuals applied for the top job. The search committee personally interviewed 10 of the most highly qualified candidates.

Founded in 1791, UVM is a top-100 research university. The school has an enrollment of 12,000 students, including more than 10,000 undergraduates and over 1,900 graduate students. The university is home to seven undergraduate schools and colleges, an honors college, a graduate college, a medical school and a division of continuing and distance education. UVM attracts a faculty that has steadily built its research enterprise, growing sponsored research from $65 million in 1999 to over $138 million in 2016. This summer, UVM’s foundation announced that it had exceeded its $500 million comprehensive campaign goal one year ahead of schedule. The market value of the university’s pooled endowment is $531 million.

Related: Recruitment for Higher Education Leaders Heats Up and Shifts

The school has been consistently ranked among the nation’s top 50 public universities by U.S. News & World Report.

Veteran Recruiters

Ms. Mamlet, who leads Witt/Kieffer’s education practice, directs searches for presidents, provosts, vice presidents and deans. She is a national leader on access and diversity recruitment. She joined the firm after 23 years in academic administration, most recently as dean of admission and financial aid at Stanford University.


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Mr. Barden joined Witt/Kieffer in 1998. A former managing partner of the education practice, he supports boards and search committees in searches for presidents and chancellors as well as institutional leaders in the recruitment of leadership at the vice presidential and decanal levels. Mr. Barden has played a central role in almost 400 of the firm’s searches across higher education, in the non-profit sector and in healthcare philanthropy.

Related: Academic Sector Pumping Big Fees Into Search Firms

Mr. Luke, who has over 15 years of experience in education and politics, came to Witt/Kieffer from George Washington University, where he led special projects for the president and provost. Previously, he worked for U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, of Florida, serving as deputy campaign manager and, before that, a staff assistant.

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

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

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