Officials hold first meeting to discuss expectations for presidential search

Media Credit: Grace Hromin | Senior Photo Editor

Speights said officials will likely need to be flexible during the presidential search process because the market for university leaders is competitive due to pending vacancies at other research universities.

Officials involved in the search for the next University president met for the first time to discuss their expectations for the search process, Board of Trustees Chair Grace Speights announced in an email to the GW community Monday.

Speights said trustees, the presidential search committee, the faculty consultative committee and the Faculty Senate’s executive committee engaged in discussions led by Ilene Nagel, the University’s search firm lead consultant, during a day-long retreat. Speights said during the retreat she set expectations for the search process and potential candidates and officials in attendance heard feedback from the presidential search firm.

“The sessions provided an important opportunity to build understanding and help us align our views as we share the common goal to attract the best possible leader to GW,” Speights said in the email. “While no decisions regarding the search process were made, the groups engaged in a wide-ranging discussion to hear more about the options for the search process.”

Speights said she began the retreat by affirming that officials are entering the presidential search process without any “preconceived notions” about who the next University president should be. She added that officials discussed how changing enrollment demographics and business model challenges in higher education may impact the presidential search process.

“Understanding the broader higher education ecosystem is critical to realizing our potential opportunities,” Speights said.

Officials selected Education Executives a California-based executive search firm – last month to guide the presidential search process.

Speights said officials will likely need to be flexible during the presidential search process because the market for university leaders is competitive due to pending vacancies at other research universities.

“However, it was also clear that GW has some unique aspects that should make this an attractive opportunity,” Speights said.

Speights said Kim Roddis, a faculty senator and the chair of the faculty consultative committee, shared feedback on the search process and submitted an initial list of nominations to the search firm. The Faculty Assembly approved the 17-member faculty consultative committee last fall to provide input on the presidential search process.

The email states that interim University President Mark Wrighton and Association of American Universities President Barbara Snyder discussed their experiences as former university presidents and the challenges facing university presidents during the retreat.

“Wrighton, who served as Chancellor of Washington University in St. Louis for 24 years, and Snyder, the former President of Case Western Reserve, described their most rewarding experiences as presidents and reflected on the challenges facing presidents today and in the future,” Speights said.

Speights said the GW community will have the opportunity to share feedback with the presidential search committee and the University’s search consultants during the “community input phase” during the fall semester.

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