The University of Nebraska Taps Academic Search for Find Next President

February 7, 2024 – Jay Lemons, Jennifer Kooken, and George Ross of education-focused executive recruiter Academic Search has been retained by the University of Nebraska to lead in its search for a new president. Past president Ted Carter left the school last year to become the president of Ohio State University, a search that was led by Santa Barbara, CA-based Education Executives.

The president must be the chief advocate and champion of the University of Nebraska at the state level by building relationships of trust and candor with the governor and members of the Nebraska Legislature; working similarly with Nebraska’s congressional delegation and the executive branch; and finally, working with the extraordinary philanthropists who have had major statewide, national, and global impact through their investments in the University of Nebraska.

The next president must be a talented conductor who can lead the leaders of the campuses and the office of the president to continue to engage the university community and other stakeholders in building a shared vision, inspiring action, modeling collaboration, being bold and decisive, and owning responsibility for advancing the mission of the university, according to Academic Search.

Successful candidates will possess an earned terminal degree from an accredited institution and/or significant senior-level leadership experience in higher education and/or the private/public sector. A PhD is preferred, but not required. The listening sessions and survey that the University of Nebraska conducted also revealed a desire that successful candidates possess a mix of the following desired leadership attributes and qualities:

• An authentic, humble, genuine, and ethical person of high character and integrity that promotes trust in all relationships.

• A gifted communicator who listens well and can inspire and galvanize others to action.

• An engaging leader who can develop a shared vision; and act boldly and decisively.

• A forward-thinking, creative, and collaborative style leavened with resilience and optimism.

• A visible, energetic, and tireless champion for higher education that keeps students at the forefront of all efforts and values shared governance and academic freedom.

• A personal commitment to advancing diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.

• A demonstrated record of strong financial acumen, especially in difficult times.

Related: Academic Search Recruits President for Norwich University

The University of Nebraska is the state’s only public university and has served Nebraskans through teaching, research and engagement for 150 years. The university’s four campuses—which include a leading Big Ten flagship campus in Lincoln, a metropolitan campus in Omaha, an undergraduate-focused campus in Kearne, and an academic health science center in Omaha—are home to over 52,000 students and a workforce of 16,000 faculty and staff.

Higher Education Specialists

For over three decades, Academic Search has been a leader in designing and implementing search processes for leaders of colleges and universities across the country. The firm has completed hundreds of executive searches for higher education institutions and related organizations, for roles ranging from presidents to provosts to deans. Academic Search has a formal relationship to a premier leadership development program. As the subsidiary of the American Academic Leadership Institute (AALI), the firm provides substantial financial support to a number of leadership identification, development, and support programs across all sectors of public and private higher education. The firm is headquartered in Washington, D.C.

Academic Search Places New Provost for New Mexico State University
Academic Search has placed the new provost and chief academic officer for New Mexico State University (NMSU) in Las Cruces. Alan R. Shoho, dean and professor emeritus of the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, was selected for the position. The assignment was led by senior consultants Maria Thompson and Cynthia M. Patterson, along with associate consultant Lisa C. Rosenberg. “Dr. Shoho has tremendous experience both as an administrator and as a researcher in the fields of education and social justice,” said NMSU chancellor Dan Arvizu. “His vision for NMSU aligns with the progress we’ve made toward the goals outlined in our LEADS 2025 strategic plan, and I am sure he is the best fit to help elevate our research and social mobility initiatives.”

Dr. Lemons has been president of Academic Search since 2017, after serving for 25 years as a college president in both public and private higher education. A recognized leader in the academy, he has been particularly devoted to supporting leadership talent by working with new college presidents on the faculty of the new presidents’ programs of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities and the Council of Independent Colleges and through the professional development programs for aspiring leaders of the American Academic Leadership Institute. Dr. Lemons was president of Susquehanna University from 2001 to 2017, and prior to that served as chancellor of the University of Virginia’s (UVA) College at Wise, UVA’s public liberal arts college in southwestern Virginia.

Ms. Kooken, consultant, joined Academic Search from Merrimack College, where she served as director of business school initiatives. Prior to that, Ms. Kooken collaborated with academic administrators and clients to develop engaging professional development programs for the Graduate Management Admission Council. She began her career in higher education as assistant director of graduate admissions for Babson College.

Dr. Ross spent nearly 30 years in higher education and was the first Black president of Central Michigan University. Since joining Academic Search as a senior consultant in 2018, Dr. Ross has taken on his searches the same way he approached any other job in his career: doing the right thing.

Related: Why Universities Have Stepped Up Efforts to Involve 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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