RH Perry & Associates Tapped to Find Sixth President for Harper College

November 19, 2018 – Harper College, a Palatine, IL community college, has retained RH Perry & Associates to lead its search for a new president. Ken Ender, who has served as president since 2009, will be retiring next summer. Senior consultants Jesse M. Thompson and Joanne Bashford are heading the assignment.

The college evaluated eight recruitment firms. Pat Stack, chairman of the school’s 19-member presidential search advisory committee, said that the choice came down to two recruiters before the school selected Ashville, NC-based RH Perry & Associates. Harper College will pay the firm up to $75,000 to coordinate the search, according to the Daily Herald newspaper in Arlington Heights, IL.

The presidential search committee, made up of Harper administrators, faculty and other members of the school community, is open to internal, regional and national candidates from both inside and outside higher education, the newspaper said.

The five presidents in the school’s 50-year history have all served about a decade each, and the hope is that the next leader will also last that long. “Here, we have to do this every 10 years,” said Mr. Stack.

The Next Level

The successful candidate will be an experienced, transformational, visionary and collaborative leader with integrity, and demonstrated passion for student success, said RH Perry & Associates. Having the opportunity to serve a supportive board of trustees and lead, inspire, and empower dedicated faculty and staff, the new president will ensure that the college moves to its next level of excellence.

Challenges await the sixth president, including state funding trends and uncertainty, which will demand strong, innovative fundraising, vigorous financial planning and oversight and reallocation of funds and resources in support of new initiatives, said the search firm. Declining enrollment and competition for students, meanwhile, will require strategies to expand reach to underserved groups, continued attention to increasing retention rates, and consideration of new programs and delivery methods.

A Need to Collaborate

The new president will be expected to provide visionary, inclusive leadership to develop a new strategic plan, encompassing but not limited to the educational, master and financial plans, said RH Perry.

The individual will also be charged with collaborating with the Harper College community and external stakeholders to ensure that academic programs and co-curricular experiences offered are current, relevant and contribute to the economic and cultural well being of the area while striking the right balance between liberal arts, workforce, and continuing education programming, among other responsibilities.

Qualifications for the role include an earned doctorate from a regionally accredited institution of higher education; demonstrated accomplishment at the senior management level in higher education or other sector that illustrates the ability to successfully manage change and a willingness to take evidence-informed risks to promote and increase student success; and community college experience or other relevant college/ university teaching experience.


Recruitment for Higher Education Leaders Heats Up and Shifts
Executive search for higher education and academia is undergoing a tremendous transformation. Technology is having a big impact. Diversity is also making its impact felt. Even certain roles are not the same as they were just a short time ago. Talk about a sector in transition!


Candidates should have excellent communication and interpersonal skills and be an active listener who is visible, approachable, engaging, compassionate and empathetic, said the search firm. Prospects should also: be eager to live in and become a visible, respected leader and valuable member in the communities the college serves; have demonstrated ability to forge strong relationships and innovative partnerships with external stakeholders and community groups; and demonstrate the skills and motivation to successfully raise funds from individuals and public and private sources.

Respected Recruiters

Harper College, which opened in 1967, is named for William Rainey Harper, a pioneer in the community college movement in the U.S. and the first president of the University of Chicago. Today, the college is now one of the nation’s premier community colleges and one of the largest, serving more than 35,000 students annually in Chicago’s northwest suburbs. Harper offers associate degree and certificate programs, workforce training, professional development, continuing education classes and developmental education.

Related: Related: Academic Sector Pumping Big Fees Into Search Firms

Established in 1974, RH Perry has conducted over 1,000 higher education searches. The firm’s higher education practice consists of senior-level executives with a well-balanced mix of college and university presidential experience, senior administrative experience and executive search expertise. Founded by Robert H. Perry, the firm is headquartered in Asheville, NC, and has offices in California, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Mr. Thompson, director of community college searches for the firm, has led, or participated in, a wide range of presidential and senior administrative higher education searches. His experience spans large and small, urban, suburban, and rural institutions nationwide. Mr. Thompson has provided services to both single and multi-campus institutions. His experience in higher education includes a combination of more than 40 years in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Michigan of senior-level administration, community college trustee service, and college teaching experience.

Ms. Bashford’s 25 years of experience working in community colleges includes serving as the president of Miami Dade College’s InterAmerican Campus, a diverse campus of 19,000 students located in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood. She also served as associate vice president for developmental education and student success at Broward College, associate provost for institutional effectiveness at Miami Dade College and held other positions in institutional research and college testing and evaluation.

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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