March 9, 2017 – Just as Elon University gets its president search off the ground with the help of a recruiting boutique, the University of Arizona has selected its 22nd president with assistance from R. William Funk & Associates.
The firm recently presented two finalist candidates: Dr. Robert Robbins, CEO of Texas Medical Center, and Sethuraman Panchanathan, Arizona State University’s VP of research. Yesterday, the school announced it selected Dr. Robbins to fill its top leadership post. He replaces Ann Weaver Hart, who decided not to seek an extension to her current contract as president.
Recruiting firm founder and president R. William Funk led the assignment. His firm has recruited more presidents to AAU land-grant universities than any other search firm. He expertise extends to recruiting leaders to universities with major health science and medical centers.
Dr. Robbins joined the Texas Medical Center, as president and CEO, in 2012. Since then, he has significantly enhanced its commitment to collaboration, introducing five cross-institutional research initiatives centered on innovation, genomics, regenerative medicine, health policy and clinical research.
Recruitment of Academia Presidents Rising
Reduced state funding, rising tuition costs, soaring student debt and decreased federal research funding have all contributed to a dramatic rise in the role search firms are playing in the recruitment of university presidents and chancellors.
An internationally recognized cardiac surgeon, Dr. Robbins has focused his clinical efforts on acquired cardiac diseases with a special expertise in the surgical treatment of congestive heart failure and cardiothoracic transplantation. His research work includes the investigation of stem cells for cardiac regeneration, cardiac transplant allograft vasculopathy, bioengineered blood vessels and automated vascular anastomotic devices.
Prior to joining the Texas Medical Center, Dr. Robbins served as professor and chairman of the department of cardiothoracic surgery at Stanford University School of Medicine, founding director of the Stanford Cardiovascular Institute, president of the International Society of Heart and Lung Transplantation, president of the Western Thoracic Surgical Association, president of the American Heart Association Western States Affiliate, president of the Bay Area Society of Thoracic Surgeons, and chair of the American Heart Association Cardiovascular Surgery and Anesthesia Council, among other roles.
He was also elected to the Houston branch of the Dallas Federal Reserve board in 2015; to the board of directors of the Welch Foundation in 2014, where he currently serves as treasurer; and as the president of the American Heart Association Southwest Affiliate in 2016.
“Dr. Robbins’ comprehensive experience as both a visionary leader and highly-respected physician, as well as his evident talent for advancing research, innovation, entrepreneurship and economic development, will serve the University of Arizona and our state well,” said Eileen Klein, president of the Arizona board of regents. “I look forward to the possibility of collaborating with Dr. Robbins to advance the University of Arizona and achieve aggressive goals for the state of Arizona.”
Founded in 1885, the University of Arizona was the first university in the Arizona Territory. It includes the Banner University Medical Center Tucson, which operates a separate four-year M.D. college in downtown Phoenix. Total enrollment is more than 42,100 students, with the largest freshmen class in its history at 8,100 students in 2015. The school offers 334 fields of study leading to bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, and professional degrees.
Emergence of Physician Leaders
The emergence of physician leaders is part of a trend centered on the unpredictability that both physicians, health systems and academic centers now face. In response, these organizations are taking steps to revise criteria for who they want to lead them forward and what the qualifications incoming leaders should have ….. Here’s some further reading from Hunt Scanlon Media.
Why Physician Leaders are Now Trending
Due to uncertainty and volatility in the U.S. healthcare sector, physician leaders are better positioned to relate, communicate and navigate changes on the horizon. To executive recruiters specializing in the sector, these professionals are the new standard-bearers who bring vision and new ways of thinking.
R. William Funk & Associates is an executive search firm specializing in higher education executive recruitment. The firm, located in Dallas, TX, has conducted more than 400 searches for university and college presidents and chancellors over the last 35 years.
Among the nearly 70 currently sitting presidents Mr. Funk has helped recruit, many are seated at some of the nation’s most respected universities. Here’s a sampling: Michael V. Drake, president of Ohio State University; Max Nikias, president of the University of Southern California; Carol Folt, chancellor of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill; Teresa Sullivan, president of the University of Virginia; Bernadette Gray-Little, chancellor of the University of Kansas; Robert Barchi, president of Rutgers University; Mitch Daniels, president of Purdue University; James Clements, president of Clemson University; and G.P. Peterson, president of Georgia Tech.
Academic Search Roundup
A number of institutions of higher education have been replacing top leaders over the past year. Here’s a roundup of recent recruiting activity in the education and academic sector, taken from the Hunt Scanlon Media newswire archives:
- Greenwood / Asher & Associates placed Dr. P. Barry Butler as the sixth president of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Partner Jan Greenwood led the search and was supported by Julie Holley, one of the firm’s principals and business unit directors, and senior search consultant / practice leader Shelley Feather. Dr. Butler currently serves as executive vice president and provost at the University of Iowa.
- Isaacson, Miller recruited Dr. Timothy Caboni as the 10th president of Western Kentucky University (WKU). Vice presidents Mike Baer and Dan Rodas led the assignment. Dr. Caboni was previously vice chancellor of public affairs at the University of Kansas. Just recently, the firm also placed Vincent Edward Price as the 10th president of Duke University. Mr. Price, an academic who is widely known for embracing diversity, served as provost of the University of Pennsylvania. Isaacson, Miller was also recently retained by The Juilliard School to lead the search for its seventh president.
- Witt/Kieffer has placed Geoffrey S. Mearns as Ball State University‘s 16th president. John K. Thornburgh, a senior partner in the firm’s education practice, and senior associate Elizabeth K. Bohan led the assignment. Mr. Mearns was previously president of Northern Kentucky University.
- Baylor University has retained Heidrick & Struggles to embark on a national effort to find the university’s 15th president. “We welcome the expertise of Heidrick & Struggles,” said Bob Brewton, chair of the presidential search committee. “They are an exceptional organization, international in scope, and they will conduct a very thorough and far-reaching search process.”
- Academic Search has been retained by Wright State University in Ohio to lead its search for a new president. Senior consultants Dr. Jerry M. Israel and Dr. Mac A. Stewart are leading the assignment. Academic Search’s role in the assignment will include assisting the search and screening advisory committee finalize its search plan, set a timeline, develop a thorough profile of the next president and identify candidates for the committee to interview for the position.
- AGB Search placed Dr. Zulma R. Toro as the 13th president of Central Connecticut State University (CCSU). Robert Holyer Ph.D., senior consultant at AGB Search, led the assignment. Dr. Toro was previously interim chancellor, executive vice chancellor and provost at the University of Arkansas.
Contributed by Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor, Hunt Scanlon Media