April 23, 2021 – Isaacson, Miller has been called in by Lehigh University to lead its search for the school’s 15th new president. John D. Simon has informed the board of trustees of his decision to step down at the end of the academic year, effective June 30, 2021. John Isaacson and Rebecca Swartz are leading this search with Berkley Burke. Isaacson, Miller is seeking an innovative president with proven, managerial talent and the capacity to successfully implement bold, strategic decisions. The school requires a decisive and engaging leader attentive to its legacy and equal to its ambition, who can leverage its community and considerable assets to plant Lehigh as a leader in the American academy of the future.
“Lehigh is a great institution with a strong reputation among our peers, and that standing will surely serve us well as we begin this search process,” said Philip B. Sheibley, board member and co-chair for the presidential search committee. “Even in a time of unique challenge, we have forward momentum as a university, and we are committed to bringing in a leader invested in and capable of furthering our mission.”
While no one candidate will embody every quality, Isaacson, Miller notes that the successful candidate will bring many of the following professional and personal qualifications:
- A deep professional and personal commitment to the mission and traditions of Lehigh, and a strategic thinker with the ability to articulate the unique value proposition of the University today and tomorrow;
- Significant evidence of leadership and management success in organizations of significant scope, scale, complexity, and responsibility;
- Proven strength in leading and delegating to a senior team and reporting to the board of trustees, along with and a record of effectively recruiting and retaining diverse talent at all levels;
- The ability to inspire, implement, and coalesce diverse stakeholders toward a common goal and vision, and the ability to recognize and support the creativity and leadership of others;
- Strong business and financial management skills, with the ability to execute on large, ambitious, and fiscally responsible plans, and a proven ability to raise philanthropic revenue and identify new sources of funding for an institution.
Lehigh University is a diverse, top-50, research-intensive, and private residential university with a formidable teaching tradition and nearly 7,000 students. For its size, Lehigh has one of the strongest balance sheets in higher education, with a $1.4 billion endowment, including $200 million in quasi endowment.
A nationally recognized search firm focused on recruiting transformational leaders for mission-driven organizations, Isaacson, Miller has conducted thousands of placements over more than three decades. More than half of the firm’s work has been in academia, involving university presidents, college chancellors and deans. The firm has filled top leadership posts at Wellesley College, Washington State University, Miami University, Howard University, Bowdoin College, Dartmouth, NYU, Virginia State University, and the University of North Carolina, among others.
Isaacson, Miller Appoints New President and CEO
The board of directors of Isaacson, Miller has appointed Ericka Miller as the firm’s next president and CEO. She will officially start her term on July 1, 2021, upon the retirement of current president Vivian Brocard. “As one of the first women of color to lead a major national executive search firm, Ericka brings a deep and lifelong commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion, consistent with Isaacson, Miller’s core values,” the search firm said.
“Ericka has done an excellent job of building and leading our PreK-12 education and education improvement practice, chairing the promotions committee, and serving as an indispensable member of the board of directors,” said John Isaacson, founder and chair of Isaacson, Miller. “She distinguished herself with her colleagues on the board and was their unanimous choice for president and CEO,” Mr. Isaacson said. “They are both proud and grateful to welcome her as the successor to Vivian. Vivian has led the firm skillfully and leaves an outstanding legacy. She and Ericka will manage the transition together.”
Mr. Isaacson, the firm’s chair, founded Isaacson, Miller in 1982. He has led searches in many areas of the firm’s practice. Mr. Isaacson has helped the firm develop its cumulative knowledge of the craft of search and has attended, with increasing interest, to the missionary purposes of institutions, the political and economic disciplines of specialized markets, and the emotional and intellectual learnings that leaders acquire in a committed working life.
Ms. Swartz is a partner with the firm and spearheads a diverse portfolio of executive leadership searches for civic nonprofits, including foundations, advocacy groups, public health and human service organizations, PreK-12 and higher education, arts and cultural institutions, and the public sector. She has a passion for serving clients focused on economic, racial, and social justice— especially those organizations supporting underrepresented populations. She also specializes in recruitments for Jewish organizations.
Ms. Burke joined Isaacson, Miller as an associate in 2019. She joined the firm with notable experience in higher education, k-12 education, and international education, most recently serving as an assistant director of admission at Georgetown University.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media