February 25, 2021 – Colleges and universities across the country are opening searches that, if all goes to plan, will allow high-profile leaders to take them into a new era of fundraising, digitalization, sports and, increasingly the case, globalization – not to mention a pandemic and post-pandemic era. Spencer Stuart was recently enlisted by Vanderbilt University to lead in its search for a new provost and chief academic officer. Susan R. Wente, current provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, will depart Vanderbilt June 30 to become president of Wake Forest University. “As Vanderbilt’s chancellor, I can think of no greater responsibility for the university’s future than identifying an experienced and effective academic leader who embodies our values and One Vanderbilt spirit,” said Daniel Diermeier, chancellor, and search committee chair. “We are dedicated to finding an outstanding provost who will lead our academic enterprise and support a dynamic environment for our faculty and students.”
As the university’s chief academic officer, Vanderbilt’s provost oversees all academic programs and leads initiatives to advance the university’s mission, as well as the faculty, staff, programming and initiatives for the university’s 10 colleges and schools. “The selection of the next provost will shape the execution of Vanderbilt’s academic strategy for many years to come,” the school said. Vanderbilt has issued a new survey to gathering input for what the new provost should look like. “Your feedback will support the search committee in their work to identify the university’s next provost to continue our progress and advance our One Vanderbilt community,” Vanderbilt said in a recent statement. “The survey is confidential. Responses will be shared with the provost search committee and Spencer Stuart.”
Vanderbilt University is a private research university in Nashville, TN. Founded in 1873, it was named in honor of shipping and rail magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt, who provided the school its initial $1-million endowment. Vanderbilt enrolls approximately 13,500 students from the U.S. and over 100 foreign countries. It is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity”. Several research centers and institutes are affiliated with the university, including the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities, the Freedom Forum First Amendment Center and Dyer Observatory.
Navigating the Insular World of Academic Recruiting
Passionate about higher education, recruiters for the academic sector face a range of challenges than those in other areas are unlikely to see, says Shawn M. Hartman, of Washington, D.C.-based Academic Search. Widespread input from across an institution’s community, lengthier searches and state sunshine laws are just some of the issues that executive recruiters working for institutions of higher learning must deftly navigate.
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, Colgate, Cornell, Northwestern, Wesleyan, and Yale universities.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media