June 9, 2021 – The University of Memphis recently selected Parker Executive Search to lead the search for its 13th president. The assignment is expected to be completed by the end of the year. The school noted that Parker has conducted more than 500 higher education searches for chancellor, president, vice president, provost, dean, chair and director positions. Laurie Wilder, president of Parker Executive Search, is leading the assignment along with vice president Porsha Williams.
David Rudd, the 12th president of the University of Memphis, will be leaving his position by May 2022. He will transition to faculty in 2023 to continue his research, after a year sabbatical abroad. The search process will be thoughtful, inclusive,andtransparent, the school said. According to state law, the governing board must hold a public meeting to establish the search process, a timeline, and a statement of qualifications for the position. “This is a fast process and it’s fast on purpose because that’s what candidates are looking for as they consider opportunities,” Ms. Wilder said, describing the search as a “proactive” one that will aim to reach hundreds of potential candidates.
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Applications for the position will close in late August, and by October, the university’s presidential search committee and Parker Executive Search will identify a final 10 or so candidates, according to the timeline proposal. After two days of interviews with the search committee, the committee will narrow the candidates to three or four finalists for campus interviews. The committee and the board of trustees will conduct those final interviews in October or November as the search firm conducts background interviews and media reviews, per the timeline.
In a special called meeting, scheduled for October or November, the board of trustees will vote on a selection for the new University of Memphis president. It is the first time the university’s board, which began governing in 2017, will select a president.
Founded in 1912, the University of Memphis has an enrollment of more than 22,000 students. The university maintains The Herff College of Engineering, the Center for Earthquake Research and Information (CERI), the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, the former Lambuth University campus (now a branch campus of The University of Memphis), the Loewenberg College of Nursing, the School of Public Health, the College of Communication and Fine Arts, the FedEx Institute of Technology, the Advanced Distributed Learning Workforce Co-Lab, and the Institute of Egyptian Art and Archaeology.
Parker Executive Search conducts executive searches for corporations, colleges and universities and collegiate athletics. The firm has a wide range of client schools, including Notre Dame, Dartmouth, the University of Chicago, Iowa State, Fordham, University of Central Florida, University of Oregon, Clemson University, the University of Tennessee and Iowa State University, among many others.
Ms. Wilder is responsible for the strategic leadership and day-to-day operations of the firm. She has been with Parker for 19 years and is responsible for leading the development and delivery of recruiting strategies and best practices across the firm’s practice areas. She is involved in all aspects of the search process and has conducted over 1,000 leadership assignments. Her experience spans AAU public research universities, regional and state colleges, as well as private liberal arts institutions. She has recruited for leadership positions across all levels of higher education and collegiate athletics. Ms. Wilder has also actively worked on middle- and senior-level searches for a variety of corporate clients in the sales, marketing, material management, logistics, human resources, general management, operations, manufacturing, construction and finance functions.
Ms. Williams leads business, client and candidate development for the firm’s higher education practice. Her career with the firm began as chief of staff to the president and quickly advanced through the ranks to her current leadership role. She is responsible for client management, candidate development and recruitment, and search execution. Ms. Williams has significant experience recruiting world class leaders among colleges and universities across the country. She has completed over 200 searches. In addition, Ms. Williams has conducted substantial work for Fortune 500 companies in the financial services industry.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media