January 8, 2019 – Spencer Stuart recently recruited Stephen Spinelli Jr. as the 14th president of Babson College in Wellesley, MA. When he takes the helm of the private business school in July, Dr. Spinelli will be the first Babson president to have previously led another university, having served for 10 years as president of Philadelphia University.
Kerry Healey, Babson’s first female president, announced last year that she would be stepping down this summer after six years in the role. She is a former Massachusetts lieutenant governor.
The selection of Dr. Spinelli, 63, followed an international search that attracted a deep, diverse and talented pool of candidates, said Babson. For the search, Spencer Stuart partnered with Babson’s board of trustees, along with a search committee comprised of 12 members of the school’s community representing faculty, students, staff, alumni, parents and governance. The search started with 200 potential prospects.
Jiffy Lube Co-Founder
Dr. Spinelli, an accomplished entrepreneur who co-founded Jiffy Lube, has spent his career at the intersection of academia, business and philanthropy. As president of Philadelphia University, he led the merger of Philadelphia and Thomas Jefferson universities. He was subsequently named chancellor of Thomas Jefferson University, as the school is known today. In June, he became president emeritus.
At Philadelphia University, Dr. Spinelli established the Kanbar College of Design, Engineering and Commerce, which is one of America’s first transdisciplinary colleges. He also championed the master of science in sustainable design, an award-winning, transdisciplinary, collaborative degree program that is among the most recognized sustainable design graduate degrees. Under his leadership, Philadelphia University saw record enrollment and retention with significant student growth in graduate, continuing and professional studies, and online programs.
“As a visionary, with the wisdom and guts to take the bold steps to ensure that higher education delivers real-world experiences and the training students need to compete in the 21st century, Dr. Spinelli is answering a call that is part of his DNA,” said Stephen Klasko, president of Thomas Jefferson University. “Those who know him well, also know that he doesn’t stand still for too long. That is what has and will continue to make him so successful.”
A Babson Alumnus
Dr. Spinelli also worked at Babson, from 1993 to 2007, serving as the chair in global management, chair of the entrepreneurship division, director of the Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship and vice provost for entrepreneurship and global management. In 2011, he was inducted into Babson’s Alumni Entrepreneur Hall of Fame.
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.
Dr. Spinelli earned his doctorate in economics from the Management School, Imperial College, at the University of London. He also holds an MBA from the F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business at Babson and a bachelor’s degree in economics from McDaniel College.
“Babson has played an important and special role in my life and I am really honored to be returning to the community,” Spinelli said in a statement. “While higher education is facing many disruptions, together we can set a vision that will enable Babson to continue to lead and remain a beacon of innovation.”
A Respected Education Practice
An independent, not-for-profit institution, Babson is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, and the EFMD Quality Improvement System (EQUIS). As of September, Babson reportedly had 2,361 undergraduate students and 996 graduate students.
Spencer Stuart’s education practice works with research universities, liberal arts colleges, graduate and professional schools, independent schools, research centers and institutes, and early and secondary education organizations. It has conducted more than 300 senior-level executive and board searches over the past five years. Ninety-six percent of the firm’s executive search placements in academia and research in the past five years are still in their roles today, said Spencer Stuart.
The practice has placed leaders across all functions with a particular focus on presidents, provosts, deans, chief financial officers, chief information officers and vice presidents. Presidential searches conducted by Spencer Stuart include those at Brown University, Colgate University, Cornell University, Northwestern University, Wesleyan University and Yale University.
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