March 1, 2022 – Macon, GA-based Myers McRae Executive Search and Consulting has assisted in the recruitment of Edward Serna as the 12th president of Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC. Leading the search for the firm was Emily Parker Myers, CEO, and Kenny Daugherty, president, along with Jennifer Barfield, senior vice president. Dr. Serna was chosen from a diverse applicant pool which included sitting presidents, provosts, and other educational leaders.
“We knew we wanted an academic leader with previous experience as a public university president and a proven record of leading change during challenging times,” said Glenn McCall, board chair. “Dr. Serna is well positioned to undertake the presidency at a critical time in Winthrop’s history. His commitment to strategic planning, data-informed choices and partnerships aligns with the Board’s expectations for Winthrop’s future as the top choice for well-qualified students seeking higher education opportunities that will enrich their lives and prepare them to meet the needs and challenges of the contemporary world.”
Dr. Serna is currently serving as president of the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF). He arrived at UMF in 2019 after serving as interim chancellor at the University of Arkansas–Fort Smith (UAFS). His work at UAFS, a public, four-year university with an enrollment of 6,600 students and an annual budget of $80 million, included leading initiatives focused on student success, student retention, and data-driven innovation. He received a doctorate in higher education from the University of Alabama, a master’s degree in management information systems from Auburn University, a master’s degree in industrial management from Clemson University and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Winthrop.
Dr. Serna noted that he is excited and humbled by the opportunity to lead his alma mater. “My experience at Winthrop is what drove me to change careers to serve public higher education,” he said. “The opportunity to return to a campus community that made such a profound difference in my life is truly a blessing.”
Winthrop University, founded in 1886, is a public, comprehensive, masters-level university. Ranked sixth by U.S. News & World Report among Southern public universities and in the top 20 of public and private institutions in the region, the university provides an educational experience that blends liberal arts, professional programs, global awareness, and civic engagement. Serving about 5,000 undergraduate and graduate students, Winthrop offers 46 undergraduate degrees and 23 graduate degrees across four colleges—the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Business Administration, the Richard W. Riley College of Education and the College of Visual and Performing Arts.
Myers McRae serves colleges, universities, independent schools, and other not-for-profit institutions. Nearly all of its search professionals have a minimum of 20 years of experience in higher education. The majority of the firm’s searches have been for presidents, chancellors, provosts, vice presidents, deans, and other senior academic and administrative leaders. Myers McRae recently placed the provost and vice president of academic affairs at Rhode Island College, provost of Methodist University and president of West Virginia Northern Community College, among others.
Ms. Myers has led Myers McRae since 2008. As the firm’s executive officer, she has broadened the firm’s scope and modernized processes, emphasizing responsiveness, timeliness, effectiveness, and affordability. While utilizing new technology in the executive search process, Ms. Myers said she remains committed to the firm having person-to-person connections with candidates and that clients stay at the center of every search.
Myers McRae Executive Search and Consulting has been chosen to help Kentucky State University (KSU) find its next president. This past summer, M. Christopher Brown II resigned in the wake of concerns over KSU’s finances and lawsuits involving potential misconduct by school officials. Clara Ross Stamps, the university’s senior vice president for brand identity and university relations, has been serving as acting president.
Known for her leadership expertise and commitment to excellence, Ms. Myers brings to the firm’s searches her extensive first-hand knowledge and experience in higher education administration. For most of her career, she served as senior vice president of university advancement and external affairs at Mercer University.
Mr. Daugherty has an extensive background in higher education administration, having served 28 years in public and independent institutions. Throughout his career in higher education, he had personnel responsibilities and served on numerous search committees for professional staff and administrators for the institution. Mr. Daugherty has conducted hundreds of searches for schools across the nation, including presidential searches for the University of Montana Western, Northwest Missouri State University, McDaniel College, Oakwood University, Kentucky Wesleyan College, Pasco-Hernando State College, Pierpont Community and Technical College, Wichita Area Technical College, and the Georgia Independent College Association.
Ms. Barfield works directly with colleges and universities on the recruitment and evaluation of candidates to fulfill their search needs. She brings more than 20 years of experience in education in fundraising, public relations, program development, strategic planning, and alumni and donor relations to our clients. Her career experience ranges from stints at a private college-preparatory school, First Presbyterian School; a private university, Mercer University; and a state university, Middle Georgia State University.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media