Higher Education Recruitment: The Proactive Approach to Hiring a President

The recent spate of high-profile dismissals of college and university presidents indicates a fundamental disconnect between higher education leaders and their boards. In many cases, the issues creating friction could have been vetted and resolved when the president was first brought on board, believes John Thornburgh, co-leader of our Higher Education practice.

Much of the guesswork can be taken out of presidential selection and higher education recruitment by making both qualitative and quantitative improvements…



In Future Talent Wars, It’s Survival of the Fittest

For anyone involved in recruiting and talent management—or anyone concerned about his or her long-term career viability and talent development for that matter—it’s helpful from time to time to step back and consider the global forces that are shaping our labor markets in the U.S and abroad. Do they favor you? Your organization?

In many of the industries and market niches that Witt/Kieffer serves, executives who make a difference with sophisticated skill sets are near-impossible to find. We’ve written about…



Executive Assessment: What Separates Academic from Corporate Leaders?

Last Friday, Witt/Kieffer released a groundbreaking report comparing personality characteristics of 100 higher education leaders with a larger group of corporate executives. That same day, both the Wall Street Journal and Chronicle of Higher Education saw fit to cover the report and the executive assessment study it was based on, understanding its potential significance.

Leadership Traits and Success in Higher EducationThe

Finding University Presidents: Can Search Committees Learn New Tricks?

It is hard enough for a college and university to find the right person to become its next president, even harder when there is dysfunctionality within the presidential search committee. And yet, quite often, search committees struggle to effectively and efficiently go about their business.

While these committees are usually well-intended and enthusiastic, they often lack the tools and methods to adequately assess individual candidates, much less the leadership needs of their institutions, writes

Chief Diversity Officers: Raising the Bar within Academic Medicine

Two decades ago it was considered a major milestone when an organization created a chief diversity officer position within its leadership structure. Today, CDOs are in relative abundance, but there is still a great deal of uncertainty surrounding the position: What role should a CDO have? Who should he or she report to? How much of a difference can a CDO really make upon an organization? Left unanswered, these questions create an impediment to a CDO’s ability to succeed.

Witt/Kieffer has…



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…



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…