January 12, 2018 – Universities have long depended on executive search firms to help with their leadership needs, but these days the higher education sector is broadening its efforts to find more specialized leaders. As a result, search firms have expanded their niche offerings in the sector, identifying athletic directors, coaches and any number of other top posts.
The latest specialized segment within the college and university spectrum to surface: finding leaders for academic research and health sciences. Harris Search Associates, based in Dublin, OH, is considered one of the top search boutiques in this thriving area. Although the firm handles key assignments throughout higher education, its specialty niche in academic research and health sciences has allowed it to offer up deans of medicine, dental, pharmacy, public health and veterinary services for academic entities across the country.
The University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine recently selected the firm to lead its search for a new chair of oral maxillofacial surgery.
Keeping Talent Pipelines Full In the Academic Research and Health Sciences Fields
In the following interview, Jeffrey G. Harris, the firm’s founder and managing partner, discusses the general trends affecting higher education today, particularly the increased scrutiny placed college management and why academic research and health sciences is experiencing rapid and disruptive change.
The dental school is looking for an entrepreneurial leader with a strong record of excellence in academic leadership and scholarly activity including peer-reviewed extramurally-funded research and enthusiasm to grow the department’s academic and research programs, said Harris Search Associates.
The next chair of oral maxillofacial surgery is expected to have a history of dedication to strong educational programming, an excellent record of clinical service and a demonstrated commitment to diversity and inclusion, said the search firm. The chair should be a departmental leader who will collaborate with members of the dental school faculty, the university community and the teaching hospital’s staff. The individual is charged with advocating and fostering high quality academic, patient care and research programs, encouraging and valuing community outreach in dental care, supporting faculty success, building strong relationships with constituents, growing philanthropy and participating in the well-established clinical practice plan.
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Harris Search Associates said that the incoming leader must possess superior communication skills, political adeptness, entrepreneurial energy and an ability to represent the school to local, national, and international constituencies. Prospects must be committed to nurturing programs and departmental faculty activity.
The successful candidate will be responsible for managing all aspects of department programs, including education, program accreditation, high-caliber, diverse faculty recruitment and retention, clinical practice development and outreach, and development of educational and clinically relevant research programs, the recruiters said.
Established in 1892, the University of Buffalo’s dental school educates general practitioners, specialists and biomedical scientists in the art and science of oral health through its comprehensive accredited programs. The University at Buffalo is the State University of New York’s largest and most comprehensive research-intensive university and is its primary center for professional education and training.
Academic/Health Sciences Veterans
Harris Search Associates, an IIC Partners member firm, is a global executive search and board advisory consulting firm with 52 offices in 34 countries. Its practice is focused on identifying and attracting leaders to support the growth of clients in the research, science, engineering, academic medicine and commercial enterprises. Its clients include the foremost universities, research parks, institutes, academic medical centers and commercial organizations driving global innovation and discovery.
“It may seem to be a narrow field of specialization upon first glance, but it is broad in its transformational impact,” said Jeffrey G. Harris, founder and managing partner, in regard to his firm’s specialization in academic research and health science. “The missions of the research university and academic medical center environment are complex and experiencing rapid disruptive change.”
“And, yet there are a relative few firms that are known and trusted in this specialized area. It has been an ongoing effort to remain known and trusted in this specialized sector as a result,” said Mr. Harris.
The challenge of identifying talent, meanwhile, also remains a concern. “For higher education institutions that have a medical school/academic medical center and clinical care mission, the healthcare component often represents a significant portion of the university’s revenue,” said Mr. Harris. “The proactive development of knowledge of the next generation of talent to navigate this rapidly changing environment remains paramount to our continued success as a practice.”
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Will Schatz, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media