November 7, 2019 – A number of top colleges around the country are looking for high-profile leaders to take them into the future. In most cases, executive recruiting firms have had a hand in some aspect of the search and selection process. Recently, the University System of Maryland Board of Regents retained Isaacson, Miller to find its next president for the the University of Maryland. Wallace D. Loh resigned following an investigation into the football program in the wake of the death of one of its players. Partners Gale Merseth and John Muckle are leading the search along with managing associate Vijay Saraswat.
Central to the University of Maryland’s vision is the concept of fostering a community that is fundamentally intertwined—socially and economically—with the growth and development of the university. The search firm said that the president will be expected to address these constituencies forthrightly, be a champion of the academic and scholarly mission of the university, and promote its potential to enrich the lives of the underserved—both within its community and far beyond—through pedagogy, research, economic development and outreach.
Isaacson, Miller said that no single candidate will possess in full every useful experience, but the search committee ideally seeks a person with the following qualifications:
• National prominence as a scholar and a history of robust scholarly activity; a doctorate or another terminal degree in a field represented at the University of Maryland.
• A deep, demonstrated understanding of—and commitment to—the values and the mission of public higher education.
• Demonstrated ability to craft a compelling vision for public higher education that emphasizes the importance of transformative research, innovative pedagogy, and external engagement coupled with a demonstrated commitment to the needs and aspirations of all stakeholders.
• A record of impact on creating a more diverse, equitable and welcoming community; multi-cultural competence and a demonstrated awareness of, and sensitivity to, all people and the ability to foster and create a supportive climate for faculty, staff and students.
• Political acumen, and a willingness and desire to engage with public and civic leadership at all levels; experience fostering successful town-gown relations and partnering with local and community leaders toward long-term goals and development.
• A demonstrated commitment to sustainability, broadly defined, and the role the university has played in furthering the values of environmental stewardship, social responsibility and economic vitality.
The University of Maryland is the state’s flagship and one of the nation’s preeminent public research universities. A global leader in research and innovation, the school enrolls more than 41,000 students, employs more than 14,000 faculty and staff, and offers 286 academic programs. A top producer of Fulbright scholars, the distinguished Maryland faculty includes two Nobel laureates, three Pulitzer Prize winners and 59 members of the national academies. The institution has a nearly $2.2 billion operating budget including more than $545 million annually in external research funding.
A nationally recognized search firm focused on recruiting transformational leaders for mission-driven organizations, Isaacson, Miller has conducted thousands of placements over more than three decades. More than half of the firm’s work has been in academia, involving university presidents, college chancellors and deans. The firm has filled top leadership posts at Wellesley College, Washington State University, Miami University, Howard University, Bowdoin College, Dartmouth, NYU, Virginia State University and the University of North Carolina, among others. Mr. Isaacson founded Isaacson, Miller in 1982.
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Mr. Merseth leads higher education searches with a particular emphasis on university presidencies and deanships of business and other professional schools that have a strong applied and career-oriented focus. He has placed more than 35 business school deans for public and private universities as well as CEOs for several non-profits. Since joining Isaacson, Miller in 2004, he has become a partner to his clients, as demonstrated by his repeat work with clients such as the University of Maryland. He spent 13 years as a faculty member and administrator at Harvard Business School and four years as founding dean of the Peter F. Drucker Graduate School of Management at Claremont Graduate University.
Mr. Muckle heads the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) practice area for the firm, building scientific capacity at many leading academic institutions. He also has engaged in a number of the firm’s most recent university president and provost searches. In addition, Mr. Muckle is a leader in the firm’s healthcare practice, where he oversees the recruitments of deans, department chairs, division chiefs, and biomedical center and institute directors. He has assisted clients such as Duke University, Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, the University of Iowa and the University of Pennsylvania, among other leading academic healthcare organizations to attract talent at all levels.
Mr. Saraswat has built expertise across a wide range of higher education searches since joining Isaacson, Miller in 2012. He has also played a key role in the firm’s STEM practice, solving complex leadership placements such as the founding director of the Institute for Quantitative Health Sciences and Engineering at Michigan State University and the chair of the computer science department at the University of Chicago. Other searches include center directors, chairs, deans of sciences and engineering, vice presidents for research, and campus and system presidents.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media