A New Breed of College President, a New Way of Recruitment

By Lucy Leske, Managing Partner

College Presidential Search GuideIn a few short years, the dynamics of the presidential search in higher education have changed dramatically. Institutions still seek exceptional leaders with proven academic credentials, credibility, and experience, but only if there is also potential – to be creative and entrepreneurial, for example, and to manage change, risk, and disruption. Oftentimes this means bringing in leaders from outside the academy. The landscape has…



Barden’s Best: Sage Advice for Academic Candidates and Search Committees

The CASE Leadership Summit is in full swing in Chicago, marking one of the social and intellectual highlights of the year for advancement leaders in higher education. A Witt/Kieffer contingent including senior partner Dennis Barden and consultants Zachary Smith and Mercedes Vance will be on hand for the proceedings.

Barden is not only one of our firm’s most experienced search consultants (in advancement…



Severance Practices for College Presidents: Survey Results

By Lucy Leske, Education Practice LeaderMercer Cover

Compensation and benefit packages for college and university presidents attract considerable attention, especially among presidents themselves. While there is plenty of information available on cash compensation for presidents, there is little on severance.

In response, Witt/Kieffer and the global consulting firm Mercer have partnered to conduct a survey of severance practices for the chief executive position (President or Chancellor) among nonprofit colleges and universities…



Higher Ed Leadership: A Dozen Recent Reads & Resources

By Lucy Leske

Higher education is going through a time of powerful adjustment, in which institutions feel more pressure than ever to prove the worth of a degree, keep tuition in check, maintain graduation and placement rates, and to take better care of students (from athletes to assault victims). Amidst the constant, accelerating pace of change, college presidents and other higher…



Developing the Next Generation of Chief Diversity Officers in Higher Education

While chief diversity officers in higher education are succeeding in their careers and CDO Report 2014 Coveroften moving up and out of their roles quickly, little attention has been paid to building a robust talent pipeline for the next generation of diversity professionals, according to a recent Witt/Kieffer survey of CDOs and other diversity officers.   Only 12 percent of the diversity executives surveyed said that their institution has a…



University Presidential Search: A Jesuit School Looks to a Lay Leader

Marquette University was prepared to set a historic precedent in its recent search for a new president – so much so that it even altered its bylaws beforehand in expectation it might hire lay leadership for the first time. For over a century, only Jesuit priests served in the role of university president at the Milwaukee-based Catholic school. Dennis Barden, a senior partner at Witt/Kieffer who led the recruitment, takes a close look…



College and University Presidents: Bring on the Revolution

Where is academia headed and what are the implications for leadership? Many people are asking these questions and perhaps the most insightful answers will come from college and university presidents themselves. With that in mind, three Witt/Kieffer executive search consultants recently held confidential, one-on-one conversations with 14 sitting college and university presidents about the future of their industry.

Reinventing-Leadership-Higher-EducationThe discussions revealed trepidation that the “business model” of higher education today has…



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…



Higher Education: The Role of Advancement in Presidential Search and Transition

Presidential transitions in higher education are times of tension and uncertainty, but also opportunity as the new leader brings fresh ideas and energy. Among the overriding issues that the campus community will be concerned or curious about include how a new president will interact with key donors, reach out to alumni, and support fundraising and marketing efforts.

Therefore, it is critical the advancement office have a voice during a presidential search, and play an integral role in ensuring a smooth…



Higher Education Executive Search: The Risk of Revealing One’s Candidacy Too Soon

The final stages of a job search for an executive are nothing short of nerve-wracking, on most every occasion. There is enough for the candidate to think about in terms of whether or not the new opportunity is the right one as a next career step. But there are perplexing issues for consideration regarding one’s current employer, too. Namely, when is the right time to reveal that you may be moving on?

In many industries the answer is simple—mum’s the…