An Update on the Presidential Search
April 1, 2021
Greetings, DelVal Community!
The Presidential Search Committee initiated the search process with its first meeting on Friday, March 26. As the Committee begins its search, we want every member of the Delaware Valley University community to understand the process that has been selected, who is on the Search Committee, what groups will be involved with designing the job description, and who will be involved with the final candidates’ interviews. The Committee wants to assure everyone that they will be sending progress reports to the community at least monthly, and, when required, weekly. Since this memo is the first, let’s start with the facts.
Our Search Committee is balanced and representative. It is composed of 10 members: six trustees, two faculty, and two staff. Three have experience with presidential searches. Five members teach or have taught at universities. At least six have corporate experience. Three are alumni. The Search Committee is:
- Jimmy Cheek, Trustee
- Fred Cope, Trustee
- Joy Levy, Trustee
- Kate Littlefield, Trustee, Committee chair
- Jeff Marshall, Trustee
- Gary Ulrich, Trustee
- Cory Kieschnick, Faculty
- Christine Seel, Faculty
- Andrew Moyer, Staff
- Kathy Payne, Staff
- Kate Reilly, Committee Coordinator (non-voting position)
I would like to thank the members of our community who have graciously committed to play leadership roles in this process.
The Search Firm
The search firm that has been selected to support the Committee’s efforts is Diversified Search Group (DSG).
Their representative executives are Andrew Wheeler and Kim Morrisson.
A Hybrid Approach to Share Responsibility and Information
To yield the largest pool of candidates from both higher ed and/or the corporate sector, and to protect potential candidates from undue exposure that would threaten their current positions or damage their professional reputations, Trustee leadership has decided to employ a hybrid information-sharing approach. Such a hybrid approach has some of the characteristics of an open approach (like that used at many land-grant institutions) and one of the characteristics of a closed search process. The hybrid process is more open at the front end (developing the job description), and more opaque at the back end.
However, to bridge the need for greater transparency with the at-large university community, the Search Committee has decided to employ conferencing technology, like Zoom, in the final interview stage. In this stage, applicants’ identities would be masked during open sessions, but participants would be able to ask questions and get answers in real time. The Search Committee is sensitive to the fact that this approach has seldom, if ever, been used in prior DVU searches; however, DSG has advised the Committee that without such assurances of their identities being protected, many candidates will simply drop out of the search, or never apply in the first place. The Search Committee believes that the hybrid model can protect these individuals, give the community the transparency it deserves, and provide a pool of the best qualified candidates to meet the University’s needs.
We hope to have our new president in place as soon as September and perhaps as late as January. While this is an aggressive timeline, the Search Committee will never prematurely recommend a candidate for hire in order to satisfy a self-imposed deadline. We will continue to search until we find the best individual for the job. That’s a promise.
The suggested timeline created by DSG is as follows:
TIMEFRAME / TASKS
March – Early April 2021
- Consultants meet with Search Committee members to discuss the position, candidate profile, process, timeline, and strategy.
- Consultants meet with groups of stakeholders to discuss position and candidate profile.
- Diversified Search revises the position description based upon feedback, develops posting copy, and places postings.
April – June
- Begin active recruitment and assessment of candidates by Diversified Search (ongoing).
- Create secure web portal to house candidate materials. Bi-weekly calls with the Search Committee chair to review progress.
- Monthly progress report meetings with Search Committee.
Late June – July
- Search Committee convenes to select candidates for first-round interviews (slate review).
- Diversified Search prepares interview questions and evaluation tools.
- Search Committee interviews candidates and selects at least three finalists.
- Finalist candidates meet by invitation with extended groups of stakeholders.
- Feedback mechanism is created for those who meet candidates.
- Intensive referencing and background checks conducted on finalists.
- Search Committee makes recommendation to the Board
- Negotiation of compensation and terms with candidate.
- Appointment announced.
By September 1
- The new placement starts.
First Task: The Job Description
The first, and maybe the most important, task is getting the job description right. That will involve representatives of all stakeholder groups – faculty, staff, students, alumni, trustees, donors, partners, and local community members. The input of these groups is essential. Without it, the presidential search will fail. While we have already identified the Cabinet, Leadership Team, Faculty Council, Presidential Staff Advisory Committee, President’s Commission on Diversity and Inclusion, Student Government Board, Alumni Council, and Board of Trustees, we have not yet fully compiled our list of stakeholder representatives. The Search Committee expects to complete this list by the end of the week. So as not to lose time, Kate Reilly and the collaborators at DSG will immediately begin arranging Zoom sessions for these stakeholder groups, centered around identifying the necessary skills and characteristics of our next university leader. Once these conversations are completed, DSG will draft the position description, and the Search Committee will review and approve it.
Stakeholder groups’ next task will be interviewing the finalists. While it is too early to fully describe this final phase, I can share that most of our meetings will be held via videoconference, and the Search Committee will do its best to ensure that the finalists can come to campus with the necessary health precautions in place.
I and the entire Search Committee look forward to speaking with specific groups in person if they so desire. Regardless, everyone can count on regular contact, whether in person or in writing. I feel I can speak for the group when I say that we understand that this is the most consequential leadership search in which we have participated. We understand what is at stake, and we intend to succeed.
If, at any time, you have any questions or comments for the Search Committee, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Presidential Search Committee Chair, on behalf of the Committee