Ohio State and Emory University Select Isaacson, Miller to Lead President Searches 

January 22, 2020 – Many academic recruiting specialists say business has never been better. Even smaller recruiting outfits are handling multiple assignments running concurrently, all at the senior levels. With so much activity, it seems, talent demand is far outstripping the supply. Just recently, both Ohio State and Emory University chose Isaacson, Miller to lead their respective president searches as both schools look to replace long-time leaders.

Ohio State’s board of trustees is looking to replace outgoing president Michael V. Drake, who announced in November that he planned to transition out of the role after continuing to serve through at least the end of the 2019-20 academic year.

Partner John Muckle is leading the assignment with managing associate Sabrina Singh and associate Amanda Sharaba.

“We’re looking for a visionary leader to continue our tremendous momentum,” said Ohio State board chair Gary R. Heminger. “Ohio State is ideally positioned to attract the next great president in higher education.”

Seeking Input

The presidential search committee, chaired by trustee Lewis Von Thaer, president and CEO of Battelle Memorial Institute, will seek input from groups across Ohio State and beyond, including faculty, staff, students, alumni, friends and partners. “We are committed to a process that is inclusive and brings together our far-reaching Buckeye community,” said Mr. Von Thaer.

Ohio State University, a national flagship public research university, offers 250 undergraduate majors, specialties and tracks, along with 290 master’s, doctoral and professional degree programs. It includes 68,000 students and 49,000 faculty and staff across the Columbus campus — located in the state capital and 14th-largest city in the country — and five regional campuses throughout Ohio.

Emory University, for its part, is looking to replace Claire Sterk, who will retire in August after four years in the president role. She is returning to a full-time faculty position. Founder and chairman John M. Isaacson and partner Ponneh Varho, with senior associate Ernest Brooks, are leading the assignment for the search firm.

“As a leading research university rooted in the liberal arts and catalyzed by visionary investments, Emory University has never been better positioned to inspire and deliver impact,” said the university in a statement.

The Selection Process

The board of trustees has appointed a presidential selection committee to identify, screen and interview candidates for the presidency and select a finalist to be voted on and approved by the board. In addition to Isaacson, Miller, Emory has engaged Ilene Nagel, president of Education Executives, a consulting firm for research universities, as an adviser to the search.

AGB Search Embarks On Prodigious Start to New Year
Washington, D.C.-based AGB Search, has become a magnet for such assignments — recently launching a variety of top leadership searches for Valparaiso University, York College of Pennsylvania, Southern Connecticut State University, Manhattanville College, Johnson County Community College, and a host of others. For this search firm and a raft of others 2020 is off to a roaring start.

“As we begin the selection process for Emory University’s next president, input from the university community is both vital and welcome,” said Emory University, in a statement. “We invite faculty, students, staff, alumni and friends to submit ideas.”

Emory University, founded in 1836, is a top-ranked private institution recognized internationally for its liberal arts colleges, graduate and professional schools, along with one of the world’s leading healthcare systems. Emory’s scholars and experts generate $689.1 million in research funding annually while also maintaining a traditional emphasis on teaching. The university, which has 15,000 students, awarded 4,835 undergraduate and graduate degrees in 2018-2019.

Related: Recruitment of Academia Presidents Rising

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. Mr. Isaacson founded Isaacson, Miller in 1982.

Respected Recruiters

Mr. Muckle serves on Isaacson, Miller’s executive committee and heads the firm’s science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) practice area for the firm, building scientific capacity at many leading academic institutions; he also has engaged in a number of the firm’s most recent university president and provost searches. In addition, Mr. Muckle is a leader in the firm’s healthcare practice, where he oversees the recruitments of deans, department chairs, division chiefs, and biomedical center and institute directors.

Mr. Isaacson has led searches in many areas of the firm’s practice. He 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. Varho is a member of the search firm’s executive committee and leads the Washington, D.C. office. Since joining the firm in 2007, she has built a strong higher education practice, having completed more than 100 searches for presidents, provosts, deans, and a broad range of functional leaders. Ms. Varho frequently works with her presidential placements to build out their leadership teams.

Related: Academic Sector Pumping Big Fees Into Search Firms

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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