Should Students Be Represented on Presidential Search Committees?

When a college or university undertakes a presidential search, a question that arises is whether to invite one or more students to sit on the search committee. There is no firm rule, yet Witt/Kieffer senior partner Dennis Barden believes it makes sense. Writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Barden asserts that having students on the committee acknowledges them as essential constituents in a very important decision.

Besides, students have…



Karla Hughes: A Story of Preparedness, Perseverance and Passion

Karla Hughes, PhD, brings a wealth of experience to her current role as chancellor at the University of Arkansas at Monticello – the first female to lead a four-year university in that state’s system. Her successes are noteworthy for someone who at a young age was not destined for higher education. What shaped Karla as a leader?

Below is an abbreviated version of our conversation with Dr. Hughes.

Read…



Leadership Interviews: Anticipate the Inevitable Tough Questions

By Sheila Murphy

  • “Should we become a sanctuary campus?”
  • “Do you believe we have achieved gender equity in higher ed?”
  • “What’s your position on inviting extremist speakers?”

As a long-time academic as well as executive search consultant, I’ve noticed how highly charged and over-simplified questions often surface in candidate interviews with search committees, campus leaders, donors, students or even the media. Some of these questions have…



Advice for Advancement Leaders Who Lack Fundraising Experience

 

Under pressure to close funding gaps through bigger and broader donor campaigns, colleges and universities often lean toward hiring advancement leaders with resumes that include proven fundraising success. In fact, a candidate’s fundraising experience can now matter most to many hiring committees.

Mercedes Chacon Vance, who leads Witt/Kieffer’s higher education advancement team, acknowledges the frustration this creates for many alumni relations and other professionals looking to advance their careers but who do not have significant fundraising backgrounds. In a recent…



Insights into Recruiting a College President

 

Witt/Kieffer senior partner Dennis Barden recently chatted – via the Google Hangouts video service – with Higher Ed Live’s Rob Zinkan about the recruiting of college presidents in this time of great challenges within higher education. Having participated in dozens of presidential searches in recent years, Barden had plenty of insight to share over the course of the 45-minute interview.

Today’s college presidency is such a tough job, Barden notes, that it’s almost “irrational” that individuals would pursue it. Those…



Higher Ed Job Candidates: What Do The Best Have In Common?

By Zachary A. Smith, Ph.D.

Sometimes described as a “dog-and-pony show” or likened to speed dating, the interview process for senior-level executives in academia is demanding and often imperfect. After many years in higher education, first as a campus administrator and now as a recruiter, I’m no stranger to either side of the search process.

Recently I had the opportunity to share thoughts on The Best Higher Education Search Committees in an article for the Chronicle of Higher Education. It…



Women and College Sports Leadership: Inroads and Issues

 

Few people know college athletics better than Chris Plonsky, University of Texas Women’s Athletic Director, and Patti Phillips, CEO of Women Leaders in College Sports (formerly NACWAA). Both Plonsky and Phillips have seen college sports change dramatically over the years and specifically in regards to women’s participation in leadership. Women are making inroads into top jobs in college athletics, they say, but this progress is inconsistent and not certain to continue. Women leaders, for example, will need opportunities to…



Perception Isn’t Always Reality: Recognizing Gender Differences in Interview Styles

 

By Robin Mamlet

Women in higher education leadership roles often find themselves alone at the top with few, if any, female peers. The reasons for this are many and complex. Of the many factors that limit women from moving up in the ranks, two should be easy to resolve: how candidates present themselves in job interviews and how search committees interpret those interviews.

I sit in on a few dozen interviews for academic president, provost, or cabinet-level positions every month, and…



Career Best Practices: How to Work with an Executive Search Consultant

By Suzanne Teer

It is part of my job to give career advice to executives. While my ultimate responsibility is to employers – that is, our firm’s clients – I enjoy supporting professionals and connecting them with the right positions.

Many of the people I speak with are unfamiliar with the precise role of a search consultant in a recruitment. For this reason I recently wrote down some advice for job candidates on working with recruiters regarding the application, initial screening…



Higher Ed Search Committees: What Do the Best Have In Common?

 

By Zachary A. Smith, Ph.D.

Through my many years in higher education, first as a campus administrator and now as an executive recruiter, I’ve observed and worked with hundreds of campus search committees. Some of these committees were extremely effective and efficient, while others moved at a less-than-optimal pace.

What does a search committee do to distinguish itself as one of the best, as compared to all the…