September 9, 2019 – Executive search firm WittKieffer has been selected to find the next president for Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, IN. Leading the assignment are managing partner Robin Mamlet, consultant Sheila Murphy and senior associate Christine Pendleton.
The school’s previous president, Janice Cervelli, who resigned in October, alleged in a recent lawsuit that she was forced out of the job by the school’s board of trustees chairwoman Mary Burke. Court documents say the school believed her performance to be “substandard,” according to the South Bend Tribune. Provost Nancy Nekvasil, a longtime member of the faculty, is serving as interim president.
“This is an ideal moment for a visionary and energetic president to join the college,” said WittKieffer.
The next president will be deeply dedicated to the Saint Mary’s mission and will, joining with the faculty and administration, define a clear vision and strategic path forward for the college, said the search firm. The president will be expected to work to ensure the financial stability of the college through energetic fund-raising and creative revenue diversification; be a leader in and serve as a strong voice for Catholic, women’s higher education; and build strong relationships with various Saint Mary’s stakeholders including and especially a loyal and dedicated alumnae body.
A Committed Catholic
“The successful candidate will be an inspiring leader who can engage the college’s diverse community in further developing and executing a clear, contemporary, and distinctive vision for a liberal arts education for women that serves society and sustains Saint Mary’s on the path to a successful future,” said WittKieffer.
The next president should be a committed Catholic who personifies the institution’s mission and ethos as well as the charism, values and educational vision of the Sisters of the Holy Cross. The college wants an experienced and collaborative leader with the capacity to be a successful fundraiser who communicates readily and effectively with an engaged community.
The next president must possess an unwavering commitment to the principles of a student-centered liberal arts education and to the value of maintaining Saint Mary’s as a women’s college, a willingness to embrace and build upon the best of the college’s history and traditions, and an enthusiasm for the people and institution, said the search firm.
The ideal candidate will possess a combination of academic credentials and intellectual abilities that will command the respect of the community, as well as skills, attributes and strengths in leadership; management; resource development; diversity, inclusion and equity; and communication, said WittKieffer.
Personal qualities should include passion and compassion, integrity, sound judgment and appropriate levels of transparency. Saint Mary’s also wants someone who has intellectual curiosity and a delight in the life of the mind, genuine interest in students and their development and welfare, a secure and confident sense of self, as well as comfort with complexity, ambiguity and critique, among other traits.
A Catholic, women’s college of national standing in the liberal arts tradition, Saint was founded in 1844 by the Sisters of the Holy Cross. The school prides itself on providing women with groundbreaking educational opportunities in an environment in which they can thrive. The college has a strong record of developing women’s voices, minds, faith and values—a mission it now shares with a larger coeducational audience through innovative graduate programs. The college sustains a student community of about 1,500 undergraduates, 157 full-time faculty, and 315 staff on a 140-acre campus.
WittKieffer Named to Hunt Scanlon Top 50 Roster
WittKieffer 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.
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.
Ms. Mamlet leads WittKieffer’s education practice. A national leader on access and diversity recruitment, she joined WittKieffer after 23 years in academic administration, most recently as dean of admission and financial aid at Stanford University.
Ms. Murphy brings extensive experience in academia to her role, having served as an administrator at various leading liberal arts institutions. She supports searches for presidents, chancellors, provosts and deans, as well as vice presidents for student affairs, academic affairs, finance and other areas. Previously, Ms. Murphy was the dean for student life at Simmons College in Boston.
Ms. Pendleton works to identify presidents, chancellors, provosts, vice presidents, deans and chief diversity officers on behalf of top colleges and universities, as well as key senior leaders in non-profit organizations.
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