Though the preparation for the next presidential search began this past summer after President Mark Erickson announced that he would be stepping down at the end of the 2011-2012 academic year, the newly formed search committee met for the first time on September 13 to discuss their next steps in the search process.
During the summer, four national search firms were researched in order to choose one to assist with the Presidential search. The decision was made to hire the search firm Isaacson, Miller, where Jane Gruenebaum, a member of Isaccson, Miller’s executive committee will act as the Principal Consultant and lead the search. Gruenebaum is originally from Springfield, where her parents owned a children’s retail store. Gruenebaum both graduated from and taught at liberal arts colleges.
“Gruenebaum is committed to the value of a liberal arts education,” said Maureen Massaro, the search committee Director. “She also has a great placement track record.”
Also during the summer, Massaro, who is the Associate Vice President for Human Resources and Special Assistant to the President, coordinated numerous listening sessions and open forums with faculty and staff on campus to assist Gruenebaum in getting to know what Wittenberg is looking for in a Presidential candidate. These campus visits, along with many hours of research into Wittenberg, will help Gruenebaum recruit the most compatible candidates for the pool of candidates.
The next step was to create a position profile that depicts Wittenberg’s strengths and weaknesses as a university and what will be expected of the incoming President. This profile will provide the framework for the search committee to assess the pool of candidates that best fit the role described for the President, as well as giving candidates the opportunity to decide if Wittenberg is a good fit for them.
“This search is ultimately a quest of fit,” Massaro said. “We need to find the best match for our needs, but the candidates will be interviewing us just as much as we are interviewing them.”
This profile was the main discussion at the committee’s first meeting last week. After the profile is finalized, Gruenebaum can begin to develop a pool of applicants for the search committee to review and ultimately interview. As of now, the number of possible candidates is unknown.
“We could get a lot or we could get a few,” said Allison Conklin, senior Political Science major and the student
representative on the committee.
But both Massaro and Conklin agree that the bigger and more diverse the pool, the better.
“Casting the widest net possible will only work to our advantage,” Massaro said. “We want maximum exposure. We do not want to limit the ability for people who do not come from places like Wittenberg to be added to the pool.”
Once a pool of candidates is formed, the search committee will interview applicants and most likely select three final candidates. According to Massaro, the plan is to have selected a candidate to fill the position by the end of January. The committee will then make their recommendation to the Board of Director, who will have the final decision. Until the selection is made, the committee will meet once a month. The chosen candidate will then become Wittenberg’s next President near the first of July, when President Erickson’s contract expires.
The search committee consists of seventeen members: eight from Wittenberg’s Board of Directors, three elected faculty members, two emerita Board members, one staff member, The President of the Alumni Association alumni, one current student, and a faculty administrator who represents Springfield as the City Mayor. David Boyle, Chair of Wittenberg’s Board of Directors is Chair of the search committee and decided the composition of the committee. The faculty representatives were elected by a vote of all faculty members and the student representative was chosen by the Student Senate.
“The individuals were chosen in a way to ensure representation from the University’s various constituencies, including the Board, faculty, staff, students, alumni, parents, Springfield community and Lutheran Church,” Boyle said in an email sent to faculty and staff this summer. “Securing the proper representation results in a fairly large group; however, it is vital to understand our key
constituencies’ views about the essential qualifications and needs of the position in order to recruit those candidates who are most likely to succeed in the position.”
(Lauren Harris / email@example.com)