Greenwood /Asher & Associates Seeks Next President for Western Illinois University

September 30, 2020 – Greenwood /Asher & Associates, a Miramar Beach, FL-based executive recruitment firm, has been selected to find the next president for Western Illinois University in Macomb, IL. Betty Asher, partner and vice president, and Alex Matthews, senior executive search consultant, are spearheading the assignment.

Western Illinois University’s previous president, Jack Thomas, stepped down in June 2019. Provost Martin Abraham is serving as interim president.

“The president will be responsible for developing a vision for the university that includes open, transparent and inclusive strategies for response to contemporary challenges facing WIU within the framework of evolving national trends in higher education,” said Greenwood/ Asher & Associates.

Among other responsibilities, the next president of Western Illinois University must be a “campus-wide leader who is able to mobilize campus constituents toward the common goal of providing access to excellence,” said the search firm. “The president will be a strategic thinker as well as a champion of all campus community members. The president’s role is to sustain and promote the campus as a leader in the marketplace of ideas, discoveries, and technologies, both locally and globally.”

A Diverse Pool

In a recent Zoom session with the university’s board of trustees, Ms. Asher said the list of candidates has yet to be filled and promised the board an open, fair and inclusive process. “It is a diverse pool,” said Ms. Asher. “I wish it were 75 percent diverse…it is not as diverse as ideally any of us would like, but it is a diverse pool.”

Ms. Asher reportedly also assured the board that the firm would circumvent most problems that would result in a finalist candidate turning down the role, whether the issue was salary or moving to Macomb. “We do our best to try to get out of the way those issues before they become finalists,” Ms. Asher said. “We ask them very specifically: Will you take the position if the offer comes?”

A list of finalists are expected to be submitted by early November, the McDonough County Voice reported. “We’re hoping that we will have the opportunity for them to come to both campuses so that they will have their questions answered and all the people will have the opportunity to ask them whatever they want to know,” Ms. Asher said.

Key Qualifications

Candidates for the president role should have an earned doctorate or terminal degree from an accredited institution with scholarship sufficient for tenure as a full professor in an academic department of the university, said Greenwood / Asher. A demonstrated record of successive university leadership is also required.

Prospects must also have a track record of successful leadership through institutional challenges; experience in developing and implementing both short-term and long-term strategic planning; experience working with internal and external constituent groups; and the ability to be an excellent spokesperson for the university. A demonstrated commitment to diversity and inclusion as core values that enhance the educational process and further, demonstrated commitment to ongoing diversification of faculty, staff and the student body is also essential.

Related: Recruitment for Higher Education Leaders Heats Up and Shifts

Western Illinois University is a regional, comprehensive university that serves about 8,000 students at its residential, four-year campus in Macomb and at its non-residential branch campus in Moline. The university offers 65 undergraduate degree programs, 38 master’s/specialist degree programs, two doctoral programs, five pre-professional programs, and 15 post-baccalaureate certificate programs. Nearly 78 percent of the university’s students are undergraduates and 22 percent are graduate students. The curriculum includes the natural sciences, humanities, social sciences, fine arts, business, education, and a number of pre-professional and technical fields of study.

A Women-Owned Search Firm

Greenwood / Asher & Associates is a women-owned executive search firm with a diverse consulting team and extensive experience in executive search, consulting and training for education markets including elementary, secondary, higher education, university systems, campuses and non-profit organizations including associations, service and cultural institutions. The firm is led by president Jan Greenwood and Ms. Asher.

Navigating the Insular World of Academic Recruiting
Passionate about higher education, recruiters for the academic sector face a range of challenges than those in other areas are unlikely to see, says Shawn M. Hartman, of Washington, D.C.-based Academic Search. Widespread input from across an institution’s community, lengthier searches and state sunshine laws are just some of the issues that executive recruiters working for institutions of higher learning must deftly navigate.

Ms. Asher was one of the first women to serve as president of a flagship institution. She brings to executive search, consulting and training a unique background of leadership service at all levels of higher education institutions and systems, in academics and student affairs and in public and private institutions. She has been a leader in executive search, consulting and training for the past two decades. She has helmed more than 500 searches, most at the president/CEO level. Her search work and career gives her an extensive network across education, health care, nonprofits and philanthropic organizations.

Ms. Matthews works in collaboration with clients and candidates to provide a fluid and transparent search process. Having previously served as an administrative assistant and researcher for Greenwood / Asher & Associates, she brings broad knowledge of higher education and exceptional research skills to her work. Part of Ms. Matthews’ responsibilities includes outreach to prospects, presenting candidates to search committees, managing the interview process and referencing finalists.

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

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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