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How will the next president be selected?

After significant discussion with numerous constituency groups, the Board of Trustees adopted a new rule in 2018 modifying the presidential selection process to enable more meaningful participation by the campus community throughout the process and attract the best pool of candidates for the presidency.

The new rule underscores the Board's commitment to gaining significant input from internal and external constituencies on the qualities, qualifications and experiences desired in a new president, involving members of the University community in a meaningful way throughout the process and finding the best possible candidate for the presidency.

The Presidential Screening and Advisory Committee met Jan. 25 to hold listening sessions with University constituency groups concerning the proposed criteria, process and scheduling for the search process. Participating were representatives of:

  • the Council of Deans;
  • department chairs;
  • Faculty Senate;
  • senior administration;
  • the Contract Professional Advisory Committee (CPAC);
  • Staff Employee Advisory Committee (SEAC);
  • University Council;
  • the Akron AAUP; and
  • students, and community leaders.

The Board will consider the recommendations from all constituency groups, but retains the final authority to determine the criteria, process and schedule for the search.

The Presidential Search Committee has been expanded to include the full Board of Trustees (nine voting members, two non-voting student members and two non-voting advisory trustees) and to add the elected leaders of:

  • University Council;
  • Faculty Senate;
  • the Contract Professional Advisory Committee (CPAC);
  • Staff Employee Advisory Committee (SEAC);
  • Undergraduate Student Government; and
  • the Akron AAUP.

Members of the Committee will have access to all materials and participate in all discussions related to the presidential search. The Committee will make a consensus recommendation to the Board, which will retain final decision-making authority to select the next president.

The Akron AAUP Executive Committee has voiced support for the change, stating “…they represent a better reflection of shared governance. … Faculty representatives have never before had the opportunity to be so involved in a presidential search, or to be involved so early in the process. The Executive Committee sees this as an opportunity for improved communication with the Board of Trustees.”

What happens now?

To initiate the search process, the Board’s Presidential Advisory and Screening Committee will conduct public listening sessions with leaders from a wide range of University and community constituencies, as detailed above, to obtain input concerning the proposed criteria, process and scheduling of the search for the next president.

Presidential Screening and Advisory Committee members are Trustees:

  • Roland H. Bauer (chair);
  • Alfred V. Ciraldo, M.D.;
  • Olivia P. Demas;
  • Ralph J. Palmisano; and  
  • Student Trustee Joshua E.J. Thomas.

Board Chair Joseph M. Gingo is an ex-officio member of the Committee.

The remaining members of the Board (Lewis W. Adkins Jr., Cindy CrottyThomas F. NeedlesWilliam A. Scala, Student Trustee Andrew M. Adolph and Advisory Trustee Anthony J. Alexander) will be invited to attend the meetings, as will the elected leaders of University Council, Faculty Senate, the Contract Professional Advisory Committee, the Staff Employee Advisory Committee, Undergraduate Student Government and the Akron-AAUP. 

The entire Board and the constituency leaders constitute the Presidential Search Committee, as specified in the rule adopted by the Board at its Dec. 5, 2018, meeting following the endorsement of the new process by University Council and the Akron-AAUP.

Why is the search for our next president “confidential”?

Board Chair Gingo said having more members of the University community participate in the discussions of the Board throughout the entire search process, rather than just making observations about finalist candidates at the end, strengthens shared governance and will yield a better decision by the Board.

“We also believe that attracting the best candidates necessitates conducting the search in executive session and maintaining confidentiality,” Gingo said. “While we understand concerns that some may have about this approach, the reality of searches at this level is that top candidates will be extremely unlikely to have their names circulated publicly while they hold current prominent positions. We think an appropriate balance is struck by having broader representation on the Presidential Search Committee.”

What about the search firm?

Following a Request for Proposal process, we selected the firm of Witt/Kieffer to assist with the presidential search. Witt/Kieffer is one of the leading executive search firms in the country, with a specialized expertise in higher education.

The contract was effective Jan. 1, 2019, and one of the firm’s senior partners (John Thornburgh) will be dedicated to the UA search, including participating in the upcoming discussions with internal and external constituencies.

When do we expect to announce our next president?

No public timeline has been announced, but the committee plans to move expeditiously yet diligently to review candidates and select our next president.