October 18, 2019 – Executive search firm WittKieffer has expanded with the addition of former athletic director Jeff Compher as a new principal in its education practice, where he will head recruitment for directors of athletics, coaches and other college sports leaders.
“Jeff is a highly respected figure in college sports,” said Zach Smith, managing partner of WittKieffer’s education practice. “He has always emphasized building a student-athlete experience that complements an institution’s educational mission, a perspective that will be invaluable to WittKieffer clients looking for progressive athletic leadership. We are thrilled he’s joining our firm and look forward to working with him to cultivate exceptional candidates for our clients.”
Mr. Compher has unique insight into college athletics and the types of individuals who thrive in leadership roles. He brings to the position over 25 years of experience at leading colleges and universities, having served as a former director of athletics, long-time administrator and recognized expert on the sports landscape.
Previously, he served as director of athletics for East Carolina University, where he led ambitious strategic planning efforts, oversaw 450 student-athletes and 170 staff members and served as a key member of the chancellor’s executive council. He has also held AD positions at Northern Illinois University and Western Carolina University, and has served in leadership roles at the University of Washington, Vanderbilt University and North Carolina State University.
In his career, Mr. Compher has championed diversity and inclusion, strong ethics and compliance, financial prudence, academic support and life skills for athletes, among other key issues and initiatives.
Mr. Compher’s addition to the team expands WittKieffer’s ability to support college and university presidents and boards as they build out their teams to actualize their missions and strategies. Identifying athletics leadership is a natural extension of role that WittKieffer has played for its clients in academia for decades, said the firm.
“Combining Jeff’s deep athletics experience with WittKieffer’s thorough and professional approach to academic executive search will create a unique service to colleges and universities,” said Andrew Chastain, CEO of WittKieffer. “Today’s institutions recognize and value the importance that a senior-level practitioner of Jeff’s stature brings to the highly public nature of athletic director and coaching searches.”
“Recruiting ADs and coaches requires a more comprehensive level of due diligence and a search process that only a firm like WittKieffer can provide,” he said. “Hiring authorities need a strong partner that can produce and execute a high-quality search grounded in a more thorough and precise process, combined with an efficient and expedited timeline.”
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Based in Chicago, Mr. Compher will lead searches for athletics leaders at a range of institutions. In sourcing candidates and reaching out into the marketplace, he will rely upon an extensive network of former peers and athletics leaders with whom he has established relationships over many years.
WittKieffer, 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.
WittKieffer’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.
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