Parker Executive Search Lands President for Colorado State University

April 1, 2019 – Atlanta-based recruitment firm Parker Executive Search has helped move the current provost of West Virginia University (WVU) Joyce E. McConnell to a new role as the 15th president of Colorado State University (CSU). She will succeed Tony Frank, who begins serving as chancellor of the CSU System July 1.

Rico Munn, chair of the CSU system board of governors, described Ms. McConnell as an experienced leader with a deep passion for the work of higher education and the ability to bring together diverse groups in a common drive for excellence.

“In getting to know provost McConnell through the search process, the board was immensely impressed with both her outstanding credentials and with the way her personality and determination fit so well with CSU’s mission and character,” Mr. Munn said. “CSU has a uniquely qualified and truly exceptional next president, and the board couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome of this search.”

“Joyce McConnell represents everything CSU is, and aspires to be, as the land grant university for the future,” said Diana Wall, a university distinguished professor, director of CSU’s School of Global Environmental Sustainability, and a faculty representative on the presidential search advisory committee. “She has proven herself as an energetic, savvy champion of inclusion and academic research excellence, and of bringing disciplinary partners together to meet sustainability challenges on campus and globally.”

Extensive Search

The board’s selection followed a highly competitive five-month nationwide search guided by the 16-member search advisory committee chaired by Nancy Tuor, vice chair of the board of governors. The committee represented key stakeholder groups, including tenured and non-tenure-track faculty, students, alumni, administrative professional and state classified staff, the board of governors, community leaders, and more.

After collecting input from the campus and community, including from nine public input forums, the committee worked with Parker Executive Search to develop a candidate profile and job description. Following recruitment of a deep and diverse pool of potential candidates, the committee considered and interviewed applicants, then recommended candidates to the board of governors.

“I’m excited for provost McConnell to come on as the first woman to be president of CSU,” said Tiffani Kelly, assistant director of CSU’s Native American Cultural Center and a member of the search committee. “I really appreciate her focus on student success and her passion for creating access to higher education, given how transformative higher education can be in our communities.”


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Ms. McConnell has served in her current roles as WVU’s provost and chief academic officer since 2014. In those positions, her responsibilities have had a broad scope: overseeing university budgets; building partnerships with political, governmental, business and non-profit leaders at the state, national and international levels; and playing a lead role in fundraising. Ms. McConnell’s track record also includes tenure as dean of the College of Law at WVU, during which she spearheaded major fundraising and academic initiatives.

Related: Universities Step Up Efforts to Find New Leaders

“Through higher education we can transform lives and tackle the toughest world challenges through a can-do, innovative spirit,” said McConnell. “The CSU community in particular is independent but always ready to lend a hand, surviving and thriving on innovative problem-solving but proud of tradition and accustomed to quietly accomplishing great things without being arrogant.”

Flagship University

Colorado State University is a public research university in Fort Collins, CO. The university is the state’s land grant university and the flagship university of the Colorado State University System. The current enrollment is about 33,800 students, including resident and non-resident instruction students. The university has close to 2,000 faculty in eight colleges and 55 academic departments. The school offers bachelor’s degrees in 65 fields of study and master’s degrees in 55 areas.

Parker Executive Search conducts executive searches for corporations, colleges and universities, and collegiate athletics. Its higher education searches number more than 500, including those for chancellor, president, vice president, provost, dean, chair and director roles.

The firm’s clients have included Clemson University, the University of South Florida, Iowa State University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Iowa State University, Ohio University, and others. Among its current searches, Parker is looking for presidents of Gordon State College and the University of North Florida as well as provost and executive vice president for the University of Central Arkansas.

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

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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