Witt/Kieffer Tapped by Oregon State University to Find 15th President

June 28, 2019 – Executive recruitment firm Witt/Kieffer has been selected by Oregon State University (OSU) to lead in its search for its 15th president. Edward Ray, who has served as the school’s president since 2003, recently announced he is stepping down when his current five-year contract ends in 2020. Zachary Smith, senior partner and deputy managing partner for the firm’s education practice, is leading the search along with consultant Suzanne Teer and senior consultant Kim Brettschneider.

The next president will be expected to lead, motivate and inspire the university toward achieving the goals, objectives and actions outlined in its 2019-23 strategic plan. While the plan provides the guideposts for this next phase of OSU’s development, the next president will bring the leadership and creativity needed to advance the plan within OSU’s well-established culture of collaboration and innovation.

Witt/Kieffer also notes that the “president will be a learner-focused leader who places a high priority on transparency, accessibility and understanding while the university meets the needs of undergraduate and graduate students, and 21stcentury learners in their communities and workplaces.”

The right candidate will have an exceptional track record of leadership and accomplishment required to lead a highly complex, world-class, research-intensive, student-centered institution. The search firm says that they must have the “ability to build upon a trajectory of accomplishment and excellence with a long-term vision of what is possible for the future of the university as well as an ability to lead through the change required to meet the emerging demands on institutions of higher education.”

In addition, the winning candidate will display a deep personal commitment to and a significant track record in advancing diversity, equity and inclusion; and a demonstrated ability and desire to work with people from diverse backgrounds, experiences and points of view. They will demonstrate a “forward-thinking, innovative approach; exhibits flexibility and willingness to take risks and look at problems in new ways while using data to inform decisions; and embraces new tools and technologies to support decision-making and delivery of service,” the job spec said.

Founded in 1868 and one of only two land, sea, space and sun grant universities in the U.S., Oregon State is an internationally recognized public research university that draws people from all 50 states and more than 100 countries. The university offers more than 200 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degree programs. It is the largest university in the state with a total enrollment exceeding 32,000 and has more majors, minors and special programs than any other university or college in Oregon.

A Top Recruiter

Witt/Kieffer, based in Oak Brook, IL, assists hospitals, health systems, academic medical centers, medical schools and physician groups; biotech, pharmaceutical, diagnostics and medical device companies; colleges and universities and not-for-profit community service and cultural organizations with senior administrative recruiting assignments. With more than 100 search professionals nationwide, its consultants recruit CEOs, CFOs, COOs, CNOs, physician executives and other leaders.


Witt/ Kieffer Named to Hunt Scanlon Top 50 Roster
Witt/ Kieffer was recognized as one of the leading academic search specialists on Hunt Scanlon Media’s “Top 50 Non-Profit/Higher Education Search Firms” list. It is the first-ever roundup of leading recruiters across both sectors. Check out these top 50 trailblazers.

Top 50

Witt/ Kieffer’s education recruitment team identifies higher education and college preparatory school leaders who understand complex issues facing both public and private institutions: resource constraints, shifting national policy and increased scrutiny by boards, faculty, students and families. The education roles it recruits include presidents, provosts, deans, and officers for business and finance, advancement and development, student affairs, enrollment, IT and more.

Dr. Smith conducts nationwide searches for C-suite and leadership executives within education, healthcare and the non-profit sector. He has over 17 years of leadership experience and has supported and led higher education president searches for AAU, research, regional comprehensive, polytechnic and liberal arts institutions. He has also supported executive leadership searches for a broad range of public and private universities and healthcare organizations.

Ms. Teer has extensive experience in fundraising within the field of education spanning liberal arts colleges, independent schools, top-tier research universities, and academic medicine. She gained experience serving as the executive director of development for the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center at University of California, San Francisco.

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

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