Reimagining the Higher Education Presidential Search

By Lucy Leske, Managing Partner, Education Practice

The traditional model of selecting a new college or university president relies upon large, inclusive campus committees which represent a virtual Noah’s Ark of students, faculty, staff, and trustees. While these committees are devoted to their institution’s success, they are often unprepared to apply serious leadership evaluation tools and validate candidate strengths and weaknesses against the organization’s needs and priorities. As such, decisions on whether or not to move candidates forward are based more on intuitions than objective, qualified assessments of leadership skills.

Higher-Ed-Presidential-SearchThere is no more important time than now to consider how some of the guesswork can be removed from presidential selection. Boards, presidents, and campus leaders are dealing with unprecedented pressures, while costs continue to rise and the very mission of higher education is being called into question.

As Boards and campus committees identify and recruit presidential successors — often considering candidates from outside academia — there are a few fundamental best practices they should keep in mind. Such guidelines are found in our comprehensive new resource, “Best Practices in Higher Education Presidential Search.” In 15 articles, leading experts from Witt/Kieffer’s Education practice look at how a “new breed of college president” is evolving, and shed light on ways that colleges and universities can ensure that they are identifying the best candidates, and ultimately selecting the right person to lead them into the future.

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Related reading: Reinventing Leadership in Higher Education: A Confidential Survey of College Presidents



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