Higher Education Leadership Search Tapped to Find Chief Engagement and Inclusion Officer for Columbus State University

February 14, 2019 – Anniston, AL-based Higher Education Leadership Search has been selected to find a chief engagement and inclusion officer for Columbus State University in Columbus, GA. Consultant Alan Medders is leading the assignment for the search firm.

The successful candidate for the role will be responsible for the overall leadership of the programs and initiatives that promote Columbus State’s strategic vision for inclusion, said Higher Education Leadership Search. The chief inclusion and engagement officer will participate, as necessary, in all aspects of institutional planning in support of the mission and goals of the university, including meeting the needs of the university’s diverse faculty, staff and student populations.

A principle responsibility of the job, which begins in July, is to provide vision, leadership, management and strategic planning for inclusion initiatives, and guide work toward the assessment, development and implementation of an inclusion strategic plan, said the search firm.

Other duties include: collaborating with various university departments, committees and the school’s diversity and inclusion committee to develop plans and practices that support recruitment and retention efforts for underrepresented students, faculty and staff; developing educational opportunities for the university community; and, in collaboration with institutional leaders, proactively addressing institutional issues related to equity and inclusion.

Candidate Requirements

The chief engagement and inclusion officer is also responsible for: assessment of campus climate progress through analyzing and synthesizing data from benchmarks, national surveys, campus climate surveys and annual reports; working with university leaders to provide subject-matter expertise related to emerging inclusion issues throughout the university and local communities; identifying, developing and maintaining active partnerships with university community groups, alumni affinity groups and civic and professional organizations as required; and remaining current on best practices and emerging trends in inclusion and engagement, and applying that knowledge to inform program and policy development.

Related: Academic Sector Pumping Big Fees Into Search Firms

Candidates for the position should have five to seven years of administrative diversity and inclusion experience and leadership in higher education or in similarly complex corporate or large non-profit organizations, said the search firm. Columbus State prefers that prospects have a terminal degree, and a master’s degree is required. Extensive executive leadership experience may be considered as a substitute.


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The role also demands that candidates have: competence in using data-driven strategies to assess and evaluate programs and services, focusing on improvement; excellent communication skills, including the ability to facilitate difficult dialogues, effectively listen to all points of view, build consensus on initiatives and issues, and inform others of policies and plans; demonstrated capacity to understand and work with various entities within higher education (i.e. recruitment and retention, athletics, curriculum and student life); evidence of membership and active involvement in organizations related to diversity and inclusion; and proven ability to fulfill the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education’s “Standards of Professional Practice for CDOs.” Successful grant-writing experience is also a plus.

A New Model

Columbus State University is a nationally recognized public university whose mission is to empower individuals to contribute to the advancement of local and global communities through an emphasis on excellence in teaching and research, lifelong learning, cultural enrichment, public/private partnerships and service to others. Founded in 1958 and located on a 132-acre campus in suburban and downtown Columbus, the school offers its 8,200 students more than 75 programs at the graduate and undergraduate levels across four colleges: College of the Arts, D. Abbott Turner College of Business, College of Education and Health Professions, and College of Letters and Sciences. Degree programs range from a doctorate of education to various international education programs and the first-ever NEXUS degree in film production to be offered next year.

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

Higher Education Leadership offers what it describes as a new model of higher education search: matching talented candidates with distinguished positions in the most cost-effective, streamlined and efficient manner. With search consultants from a variety of academic and administrative positions, the firm offers universities and candidates a variety of services: profile development, position advertising, candidate support and recruiting, facilitation of the interview process, as well as complete internet and social-media vetting.

Dr. Medders was previously president of Myers McRae Executive Search, serving as consultant on over 30 public and private institutional searches for academic affairs, advancement and business and finance vice presidents, advancement officers, academic deans and directors, state and national executive directors, nursing and cybersecurity faculty.

During his academic career, Dr. Medders served as vice president for advancement at Columbus State University and executive director of the CSU Foundation, vice president for university advancement at the University of North Alabama and executive director of the UNA Foundation, and vice president of development at Campbellsville University in Kentucky.

Related: Recruitment for Higher Education Leaders Heats Up and Shifts

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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