Wheless Partners Finds 14th President for Wichita State

November 6, 2019 – Executive recruitment firm Wheless Partners has placed Jay Golden as the 14th president of Wichita State University (WSU). John Bardo, the school’s past president, passed away earlier this spring. Dr. Golden will assume the presidency full time by the beginning of spring semester.

“Dr. Golden has an extremely impressive record of accomplishments in research and higher education that will be invaluable for WSU’s future growth,” said Steve Clark, a Wichita business leader who served as search chair. “I have no doubt that Jay’s record of proven leadership will result in even greater accomplishments and recognition for Wichita State during what we expect will be his long tenure as president.”

Dr. Golden brings a background as a leading thinker and national leader on environmental sustainability, applied learning and economic development. He is currently vice chancellor at East Carolina University (ECU), with responsibilities that include developing public-private partnerships and building research campuses. Dr. Golden went to ECU from Duke University, where he was a faculty member and chair of the business and environment program and director of the Duke Center for Sustainability and Commerce. He also served as associate vice provost for research at Duke, which is continually in the top 10 of all universities in research expenditures. Dr. Golden also served as executive in charge of the Duke Corporate Relations Office, working with global companies, CEOs and boards of directors. His previous faculty and administrative roles have been with Arizona State University, where he founded and co-directed the Sustainability Consortium, then the world’s largest industry-academia collaboration focused on research and workforce development. It included many of the world’s top 150 manufacturers and brands.

Dr. Golden said he has long admired Wichita State from afar and gotten to know it better through his role organizing the American Athletic Conference Research and Innovation Consortium and through his visits to campus during the search process.

“I see this as an opportunity to dedicate myself to the university and the Wichita community as part of a team that can further transform our university and our region,” said Dr. Golden. “We can be the next great public research university in our own special Shocker way,” in reference to the name of the school’s sports teams.

“That includes developing business and entrepreneurial approaches that make a Wichita State University degree more accessible, more affordable and more valuable for all of our students and all Kansans,” he said.

Wheless Partners charged the university $80,000, plus expenses, for the search, according to the WSU student newspaper, the Sunflower. The fee will be paid in three installments, said the newspaper, citing the Wheless contract. The first installment was paid this spring. Additional fees are expected to come to about $15,000.

“I was very pleased with the new president announcement,” student body president Kitrina Miller, one of two student members on the presidential search committee, told the Sunflower. “Jay was my No. 1 pick from the candidates we had put forward, so I’m extremely happy.”


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Ms. Miller said Golden stood out from the crowd because he took matters into his own hands when pursuing the presidential position. “One thing that really stuck out to me was during his interviews he shared that he came to the search firm,” she said. “The search firm didn’t come to him about this position. He really wanted to come here and he developed that passion for WSU.”

Related: Recruitment for Higher Education Leaders Heats Up and Shifts

Established in 1886, Wichita State University offers more than 60 undergraduate degree programs in more than 200 areas of study in six colleges. For the first time in nearly 30 years, more than 16,000 students have enrolled for fall classes this year at the school.

Experienced Executive Recruiters

Wheless Partners, founded in 1986 by Mike Wheless, conducts management, executive and board searches across all industries and functions. It also handles succession planning, talent mapping and interim executive solutions, among other services. The firm has worked with Fortune 500 companies, mid-size operations, leading public and private institutions, investment portfolio companies, not-for-profit foundations and start-ups. Wheless Partners has offices in New York, Atlanta, Birmingham, Houston, Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver and San Francisco.

Mr. Wheless, who advocates a team approach to consulting, has worked for an array of clients, including Microsoft, National Australia Bank, CSG International, Ralph Lauren, Bank of Tokyo, Duke University, Sysco Foods Corp., Halliburton, University of Texas System, United Parcel Services, the Gallup Organization, Murphy Oil, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Lowe Enterprises/ Destination Hotels and Resorts, ITT Corporation, Texas Medical Center Corp. and Home Depot.

Related: Academic Sector Pumping Big Fees Into Search Firms

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor  – Hunt Scanlon Media

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