Storbeck Search | Diversified Search Recruits First Female/Black President for Boston University

November 15, 2023 – Higher education-focused Storbeck Search, part of the Diversified Search Group, has assisted in the recruitment of Melissa L. Gilliam as the 11th president of Boston University. Robert Brown announced that he will retire as president at the end of the 2022–2023 academic year. “Dr. Gilliam will be the first female president of Boston University and first person of color to lead our proud 184-year-old research institution,” said Ahmass L. Fakahany, chair, board of trustees. “We couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome her to our community, one that is in continual ascension and shimmering with promise.” The assignment was led by Shelly Weiss Storbeck, global education practice lead and managing director; R. Thomas Fitch, managing director; Linda Chavers, managing associate; and senior associates Amanda Bennett and Lisa Solinsky.

Dr. Gilliam’s appointment caps a search that lasted more than a year and yielded close to 400 potential candidates from around the world. Hundreds of students, faculty, staff, and alumni participated in the process by sharing the characteristics and qualifications they hoped to see in their next president, input that helped shape a presidential profile and guided the work of the 16-person presidential search committee.

“Dr. Gilliam is an accomplished scholar, a member of the National Academy of Medicine, and a  physician by training, with roots in the humanities and with research conducted at the intersection of medicine and the social sciences,” said BU search committee member Kimberly Howard, chair of the BU Faculty Council and an associate professor of counseling psychology and applied human development at BU Wheelock College of Education & Human Development. “Her approach to leadership is that of a consensus builder. She is highly collaborative and also able to take the hard stand when it is needed.”

Dr. Gilliam is an esteemed and award-winning interdisciplinary researcher in medicine, public health, and the humanities. In her most recent role at Ohio State, she served as the chief academic officer and oversaw the office of academic affairs, including undergraduate education, graduate education, international affairs, diversity and inclusion, external engagement, online learning, and information technology. She was the first woman of color to serve in that role at Ohio State. Prior to joining Ohio State, Dr. Gilliam spent the majority of her career at the University of Chicago, where she was a professor of obstetrics and gynecology and pediatrics, the Ellen H. Block Distinguished Service Professor of Health Justice, and vice provost. 

Related: Diversified Search Group Recruits Chief Diversity Officer for SUNY

Boston University is a nonsectarian, but has a historical affiliation with the United Methodist Church. It was founded in 1839 by Methodists. The university now has more than 4,000 faculty members and nearly 34,000 students, and is one of Boston’s largest employers. It offers bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, doctorates, and medical, dental, business, and law degrees through 17 schools and colleges on three urban campuses

Higher Education Recruiting

Ms. Weiss Storbeck launched Storbeck Search in 2007 to focus on executive search in the education and non-profit sectors. Now part of The Diversified Search Group, the firm works on behalf of colleges, universities, schools, and non-profit organizations across the nation, with headquarters in Pennsylvania and local offices in every region. Storbeck Search has conducted searches for some of the country’s top colleges and universities, private schools, and non-profit institutions. Its roster of university clients includes Brown, Columbia, Haverford, Johns Hopkins, Lawrenceville, Michigan State, Northwestern, Pomona, Princeton, Swarthmore, and the University of Wisconsin, among others.

With more than 25 years of recruiting and search experience, Mr. Fitch brings to every client relationship sound judgment, credibility, and a focus on partnership with institutional leaders and search committees.  Recent placements have included senior-level administrators at institutions ranging broadly from small liberal arts colleges to large private universities, to public institutions small and large. In his career he has held a variety of positions in both higher education and corporate recruiting.

Storbeck Search / Diversified Search Group Recruits President for Hampton University
Storbeck Search, part of the Diversified Search Group, has placed Darrell K. Williams as the new president of Hampton University in Hampton, VA. He will succeed William R. Harvey, who retires on June 30 after leading Hampton for 44 years. “When president Harvey told us of his decision to retire, we knew we wanted to build upon what he has accomplished,” said Wes Coleman, board of trustees chairman. “We embarked on a search for a proven strategic leader. The skills Lt. Gen. Williams is bringing to Hampton encompass what institutions of our size need. In a global world increasingly dependent on technology, this kind of strategic leadership expertise and knowledge can only help to move our institution forward over the coming decades.”

Ms. Chavers brings to Storbeck Search | Diversified Search Group 15 years of teaching and advising students and collaborating with senior leaders around the charged issues facing universities today. Before entering executive search, she managed hundreds of students’ personal welfare and academic progress as the Allston Burr resident dean of Winthrop House and assistant deans of Harvard College at Harvard University.

Ms. Bennett combines a commitment to serving mission-driven institutions in the education and non-profit sectors with 20 years of experience identifying and recruiting executive leaders. Before joining Storbeck Search | Diversified Search Group, she managed talent recruitment for several Fortune 500 retail companies. Partnering with CEOs, Ms. Bennett filled executive-level positions and led internal recruiting teams responsible for filling 100-plus corporate positions a year. In addition, she helped shape strategies for on-campus recruitment and internship opportunities for college students.

Ms. Solinsky has extensive experience in the education and non-profit sectors and a commitment to connecting individuals with mission-driven organizations. She has successfully managed searches for independent schools, colleges, universities, and non-profits for positions including head of school, chancellor, president, provost, and CEO, as well as senior leaders focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Prior to entering executive search, Ms. Solinsky served as director of development at Germantown Friends School in Philadelphia, where she managed fundraising and donor stewardship programs. Previously, she served in development roles at the American Red Cross, Haverford College, and the University of Pennsylvania.

Related: Hunt Scanlon Top 50 Non-Profit & Higher Education Search Firms

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Executive Editor; Lily Fauver, Senior Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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