Russell Reynolds Associates Tapped to Find President for Kent State

December 17, 2018 – A number of top colleges around the country are looking for high-profile leaders to take them into the future. In most cases, executive recruiting firms have had a hand in some aspect of the search and selection process.

Russell Reynolds Associates has been retained by Kent State University to lead in the search for its 13th president. Beverly J. Warren recently announced that she will step down from the role at the end of her term on July 1 after five years of leading the school. Russell Reynolds was selected from among 15 other search firms responding to the university’s recent request for proposals.

The firm is looking to identify and recruit a highly qualified successor who best embodies the skills and characteristics required to further elevate Kent State.

“The university is well positioned to continue its strong upward trajectory – enrolling the nation’s top students, graduating record numbers and embarking on a transformational 10-year master plan,” said Ralph Della Ratta, board chair. “Our new president will take the reins of a university community with tremendous momentum and growing academic success.”

Visionary Leader Sought

“The board of trustees is committed to pursuing a search that yields the very best outcome – an accomplished, visionary and inspirational president to lead Kent State to its brightest future,” he said. “As always, the university will continue to abide by all applicable laws while seeking outstanding candidates to serve as our university’s next president.”


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The search will be led by board vice chair Shawn Riley, president of McDonald Hopkins and a 1983 Kent State alumnus. Mr. Riley will chair a presidential search committee made up of representatives from the faculty, student body, administration, board of trustees, alumni and community, consistent with university policy.

“I am honored to lead the committee in search of the university’s next president,” Mr. Riley said. “Kent State has a strong legacy of exemplary presidents, and it is a great privilege to serve my alma mater in selecting an outstanding leader to guide Kent State with strength and vision.”

Related: Academic Sector Pumping Big Fees Into Search Firms

The university is launching a presidential search website that includes an online survey inviting members of the Kent State community and the public to offer feedback, thoughts, advice and comments on the competencies, experiences and characteristics desired in the next president. Community members are encouraged to share their views on the university’s key strengths, opportunities and challenges in the next few years and what the top three priorities for the next president should be, said the school. The website will be updated as the search process continues.

Leading University

Established in 1910, Kent State is a large, primarily residential, public research university in Kent, OH. It is one of the largest universities in Ohio with an enrollment of 39,367 students in the eight-campus system and 28,972 students at the main campus. The school offers over 300 degree programs, among them 250 bachelor’s, 40 associate’s, 50 master’s, and 23 doctoral degree programs of study, which include nursing, business, history, library science, aeronautics, journalism, fashion design and the Liquid Crystal Institute.

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

Russell Reynolds Associates’ global higher education practice is composed of former senior university officers, tenured professors and professional university staff, along with traditional business leaders, who work together to guide search committees through an orderly and transparent search process. The firm works collaboratively with large search committees of trustees, faculty, staff and students, balancing divergent interests while driving what it hopes will be eventual consensus. Charlie Falcone leads the education practice, including higher education, academic medicine and digital education.

Russell Reynolds Associates has worked with a number of universities to address their leadership needs, including Fairfield University, DePauw University, Bucknell University, Connecticut College, AAU University and INSEAD.

Related: Recruitment of Academia Presidents Rising

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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