Haley Associates Recruits President for Methodist University

October 29, 2018 – Higher education search firm Haley Associates has placed Stanley Wearden, a visionary with a proven record of excellence in academics, communications and leadership, as president of Methodist University in Fayetteville, NC. The university’s previous president, Ben E. Hancock, recently retired after seven years in the role. The search was led by principal Katherine Haley.

“The board of trustees is excited to have Dr. Wearden as Methodist’s fifth president,” said Mac Healy, chairman of the university’s board of trustees. “His vision, experience and energy helped to convince us that he is the right leader for this time in the life of Methodist University. We welcome Dr. Wearden and his wife to Methodist and the Fayetteville community.”

The search firm was seeking a dynamic and talented new president to build on the school’s notable success and momentum, foster innovation, hone its strategic priorities, build enrollment and both enhance and leverage university resources. Dr. Wearden fit that bill. He has been senior vice president and provost of Columbia College Chicago since 2014, overseeing nearly 300 faculty members. In that role, he is credited with leading the development and implementation of a highly inclusive and ambitious strategic plan.

From 2009 to 2014, Dr. Wearden served as dean of the College of Communication and Information at Kent State University in Ohio, where he created a new major in applied communication, which helped increase the school’s undergraduate enrollment by 80 percent in four years.

Veteran Teacher

For 20 years, Dr. Wearden taught journalism and mass communication at Kent State, and has held the rank of professor with tenure in Kent State’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication and School of Communication Studies, and in Columbia College Chicago’s communication department.

“We are convinced that, under Dr. Wearden’s leadership, Methodist will continue to grow our undergraduate and graduate programs while staying true to the traditions that have made Methodist University what is today,” said Mr. Healy.


Recruitment of Academia Presidents Rising
Reduced state funding, rising tuition costs, soaring student debt and decreased federal research funding have all contributed to a dramatic rise in the role search firms are playing in the recruitment of university presidents and chancellors.

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Founded in 1956, Methodist University is a comprehensive liberal arts-based university with a wide range of programming, including engineering, PGA golf management, physician assistant (MMS degree), nursing, forensics and athletic training, as well as doctorates in physical therapy and occupational therapy. With over 80 majors, minors and concentrations in five undergraduate schools and six graduate programs (DPT, OTD, MMS, MBA, MED, MJA), Methodist has an enrollment of nearly 2,250 students from over 40 states and more than 77 countries. University students have access to over 100 clubs and student organizations, as well as 20 highly competitive NCAA Division III athletic teams.

Related: Academic Sector Pumping Big Fees Into Search Firms

The school’s annual budget is close to $80 million. Its endowment is about $17 million.

A Boutique Recruiter

Manchester, NH-based Haley Associates provides personalized services focused on the unique needs of the institutions and leaders it serves. The firm works on a limited number of consulting engagements and searches in order to remain a client-focused practice. Its services include strategic institutional assessment and modeling, board governance consultation and retreats, executive coaching for presidents and senior leaders, effective presidential transitions and presidential/senior leadership evaluations.

Dr. Haley is the former president of both Gettysburg College and Whittier College. She was the first woman president at both schools. As an executive search consultant, she has conducted numerous higher education leadership searches for institutions across the country, including over 35 presidential searches. She advises colleges and universities on leadership succession, governance and effective board performance.

Prior to her president roles, Dr. Haley was provost and professor of English at Kenyon College and dean of graduate study and director of general education at Augustana College. She has held leadership positions in a number of national higher education associations. She served as chair of the board of the Annapolis Group, the professional organization of the presidents of the nation’s leading liberal arts colleges. Dr. Haley also served on the boards of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, the Council of Independent Colleges, the American Council of Academic Deans, the Eisenhower Institute, the Lincoln Prize Board and the Gettysburg Foundation. She is a member of the board at Thomas College.

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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