January 26, 2018 – Executive search firms continue to reap the benefits of an active education sector, which many academic recruiters report has never been busier. Even smaller recruiting outfits have multiple assignments running concurrently, all at the senior levels. If any slowdown is coming, it most likely will be found at the talent identification stage. With so much activity, the demand for talent seems to be outstripping the supply.
The University of Oklahoma (OU) recently enlisted Storbeck/Pimentel & Associates, one of the nation’s leading boutique providers in the higher education space, to help find its 14th president. David Boren announced that he will retire at the end of the 2017-18 academic year after serving as the school’s leader for 23 years. Managing partners Shelly Weiss Storbeck and Alberto Pimentel are leading the assignment. OU will pay upwards of $200,000 for Storbeck/Pimentel’s services.
Candidate names, interview questions and any schedule of interviews, which will begin next month, will remain confidential during the rest of the search, said David Rainbolt, chair of the search committee. Finalists will be sent to the board of regents on March 1, he said. The search firm will identify possible candidates from across the nation based on the requests of the stakeholders and the committee.
By higher education standards, the search is happening at “lightning speed,” Ms. Pimentel told OU Daily, but if stakeholders are not excited about the candidates the firm is presenting, it will slow down the process. “We would rather wait to find the right candidate than move forward with the wrong candidates,” she said.
The new president must be a visionary leader who shares a passion for OU’s mission, said Storbeck/Pimentel. The individual is expected to be dedicated to continuing the university’s tradition of academic excellence while embracing its commitment to improving the lives of Oklahomans and the world beyond. The successful candidate will be a collaborative and energetic leader who will build upon the legacy of Mr. Boren, said the firm.
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.
The board of regents seeks an individual who will leverage OU’s current momentum and strengthen the university’s academic and research missions while furthering its commitment to student success. The search firm said that the next president must lead and manage change in a shifting higher education environment through innovative, entrepreneurial thinking and openness to strategic change and new possibilities.
The University of Oklahoma is a comprehensive research institution, located on three campuses (Norman, Oklahoma City, and Tulsa), that offers a broad array of disciplines, ranging from modern dance and architecture to meteorology, medicine and public health. The school is home to over 31,000 students and more than 3,500 faculty and 8,000 staff across all three campuses. It has budget of $2 billion and an endowment of $1.52 billion.
Education Search Leaders
Storbeck/Pimentel has a strong history of recruiting top leadership in higher education. The firm has placed presidents at the University of Arizona, Swarthmore College, Pomona College, Carnegie Mellon University, University of Wyoming and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, among many others. Minority and female owned, the firm has more than 25 consultants and support staff in two main offices in Los Angeles and Philadelphia, with affiliated offices in Vermont, Virginia and Florida.
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Ms. Storbeck co-founded Storbeck/Pimentel in 2007 and is managing partner of the East Coast practice. She has one of the most widely recognized names in higher education search, having recruited senior leaders for America’s most prestigious colleges and universities. Most recently, she conducted president searches for the University of Pittsburgh, University of Wisconsin, Bates, Denison, Haverford and Swarthmore colleges. Over her career, she has conducted more than 500 searches for public and private universities, colleges and schools, and non-profit associations and organizations.
Mr. Pimentel has conducted hundreds of search assignments for a variety of public and private universities and colleges, non-profit organizations and governmental agencies over the last 20 years. He has recruited candidates for both academic and administrative positions for university systems as well as individual campuses. His experience includes conducting searches for chancellors, presidents, provosts, vice presidents, academic deans, executive directors, directors and managers across all functional areas.
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