Recruiting Higher Education Executives: A Matter of Instinct or Information?

Placement of executives for colleges and universities has become more sophisticated through the years, but fundamental practices and principles still apply. For higher education executive search committees, there is no substitute for due diligence. The best hiring process is a compilation of qualitative and quantitative factors that result in a “narrative” about a candidate, says Dennis Barden, Senior Vice President at Witt/Kieffer. For the candidates themselves, honesty and enthusiasm, as well as “doing…



Strategic Skills Critical When Filling Board Member Positions

By Jim Gauss

With talent in short supply, today’s executives work hard to fill open board member positions with highly strategic, broad-based thinkers. Organizations that want to position themselves for growth and competitive advantage place a high priority on key skill sets like information technology, treasury and merger-and-acquisition experience.

It wasn’t too long ago that hospitals and universities sought the chief financial officer of a local business to…



Managing Diversity: 5 Ways Your Board Can Get Results

Guest post by Jim Gauss and Howard Jessamy

Managing Diversity: 5 Ways Your Board Can Get Results

Fourth in a series of findings from Witt/Kieffer’s 2011 national survey report Building the Business case. Healthcare Diversity Leadership.

Over the past few months in this series on advancing leadership diversity, I’ve shared some key findings from our 2011 national survey report, noted specific barriers  to improving and managing diversity in a meaningful way, explained why mentoring is the number one best practice to use, and…



Adventure Abroad: Is It for You?

Guest post by Jean Dowdall and Kathleen M. Pike

Thomas Friedman argued in a recent New York Times article that career paths aren’t stable ladders anymore—they are entrepreneurial ventures calling for creative steps. In academe, one of those creative steps may be to work overseas. As American colleges and universities globalize, faculty members and administrators have the opportunity to globalize their professional careers as well.

The idea can be exciting, but overseas assignments come in many forms. You should carefully weigh the…



You Can Go Home Again

Guest post by Jean Dowdall and Kathleen M. Pike

One or more overseas postings—long-term or not—are critical for those whose goals include a successful global career. But what do you do when you want to come home? Re-entering the U.S. job market can be almost as daunting as going overseas, especially in these times of tight budgets. So unless you’ve considered your move overseas to be permanent, the time to think about when, where, and what you’ll do when you…



Shhhh…Presidential Search in Progress

Guest post by Dennis Barden

While it is still common for educational institutions in the final stages of a leadership search to bring candidates to campus for open visits—public institutions are often required by law to do so—some candidates are pushing back. The issue of transparent governance versus the candidate’s right to privacy is an old one but the current climate is shifting toward a more confidential process.

The reason for this is paralleled by a shift in the nature of…



The Care and Feeding of the 24/7 University President

Guest post by John Thornburgh

Attention university trustees: Protect your academic chief executive.

Running a university is unpredictable and stressful, and it takes a 24/7 commitment, yet most academic presidents wouldn’t trade their roles for anything. These men and women are patient, confident, optimistic, energetic – and rare.

Recognize that a great president counts among your institution’s most valuable assets, and be sure that your board is aware of how important it is to properly care for and protect him or her….



Higher Education Choosing More Internal Candidates

Guest blog by Lucy Apthorp Leske

Today’s challenged economy places extraordinary demands on campus leadership—and it is equally demanding of search processes. More academic institutions are announcing leadership hires without national searches. Is the calculus on internal candidates and length of searches changing, or is this simply a product of the times?

The costs of an external search include not just direct expenses but also the costs of delays in making key decisions and the risk of a poor fit between…