Developing the Next Generation of Chief Diversity Officers in Higher Education

By Lucy Leske and Oliver Tomlin

The role of chief diversity officer within colleges and universities has blossomed and evolved over the years. It has gone from being a primarily tactical position to a strategic one, requiring a much more multifaceted skill set than in the past. “The successful diversity leader needs negotiating, diplomatic, communication, and analytical skills in addition to educational credentials,” we

Diverse Leadership in Higher Education: Time to Get (More) Serious

Most institutions of higher education today are “very serious” about developing diversity among their top administrators, believes Witt/Kieffer senior partner Oliver Tomlin. That’s a vast improvement from the past, he says. But it doesn’t mean that schools and search committees still can’t learn a thing or two about developing diverse leadership—a recent American Council on Education (ACE) survey noted that minority representation among higher ed leadership has…



Higher Education Institutional Advancement: Finding Opportunity in Leadership Transition

Few things stress advancement and development professionals as much as turnover at the top of their organizations. In higher education institutional advancement offices, entire campaigns and carefully nurtured relationships can be dashed if the transition of a new president, provost, or dean isn’t managed smoothly or the new leader has other, unanticipated priorities. The best way to respond to the uncertainty of leadership turnover is for the chief development officer and colleagues to be proactive, and positive, says Witt/Kieffer…



Higher Education Recruitment: 10 Mistakes Search Committees Make

Anyone who’s served on an academic search committee has his or her favorite horror story about candidate missteps—there was the aspiring dean who elegantly fudged the credentials on her curriculum vitae or the presidential hopeful who sported a neon-orange tie. Dennis Barden, senior vice president and consultant in our Higher Education practice, recently outlined for the Chronicle of Higher Education some of the

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…