December 2 Update on Presidential Search

Submitted on behalf of James W. Nolan Jr. ’77, Parent ’01, chair of the Presidential Search Committee

On behalf of the presidential search committee, I am writing to update you on our status and next steps.

We are pleased with the skills and character of candidates and continue in active discussions with a number of highly qualified individuals. However, for reasons discussed below, the search will extend longer than we originally projected; we now expect to name the next president in the spring semester.

In addition to adjusting the timeline, we have come to the difficult decision as a committee that we must adjust our expectations for the degree of public visibility for our finalists. Specifically, we have decided that we must remove the step of holding open public meetings for multiple candidates. Based on the feedback we have received from our candidates and the industry knowledge of our search firm, we have had to acknowledge that today’s competitive environment of presidential searches requires us to embrace a process that ensures confidentiality of candidates and a narrower degree of campus interaction until the final selection is named.

We understand that some people on campus will disagree with this decision. The committee did not make this decision lightly and worked throughout the summer and fall in an attempt to stay true to our original goal of hosting public interactions with candidates. In doing so, however, we discovered we were going against the expectations and assumptions of our most qualified candidates, to the extent that we risked harming our prospects for success in this important search.

Much has changed since the college conducted its last presidential search in 2007. Top candidates are often active in concurrent searches at other institutions, and they also are highly attuned to how their identities and careers are discussed in this age of social media, especially when information can be so easily shared with their constituents at their current jobs. After much effort and interaction with candidates, we have realized that a more confidential process will give us the greatest likelihood of securing the best possible candidate for the long-term well-being of the college. The decision to move to a more confidential process does not mean that candidates do not understand or respect the concerns of our community; simply, it is based on reasonable, professional considerations reflected in the higher education marketplace.

As a reminder, the Board of Trustees will vote on the recommended candidate once it has listened to the advice and feedback of the search committee, as well as any other campus representatives who will participate in the final process. The voices of the faculty, student, and staff members of the search committee play a significant role in our approach and process. They have shown an exemplary commitment to representing the varied perspectives of our campus, and I am confident they will continue to do so moving forward.

I am grateful for the dedication of the search committee and our search firm in identifying a pool of qualified candidates. These teams have spent countless hours reading materials, interviewing candidates, and discussing the best fit for the college. It has truly been a pleasure working with every member of the search committee.

If you have questions, we urge you to attend one of the following sessions, listed below, where I and other members of the search committee will be present.

Campus Information Sessions

Committee members from each campus constituency will be available to answer questions regarding our decision on Tuesday, December 6:

Constituent-based meetings: 12:10-1:00 p.m.

  • Staff: Textor 101
  • Faculty: Textor 102
  • Students: Williams 225
  • Administrative Assembly: Clark Lounge, Campus Center

You may also choose to join me along with the campus search committee members to ask questions between 4:00 and 5:00 p.m. in Clark Lounge of the Campus Center.

I look forward to seeing some of you on Tuesday and to making continued progress toward the successful selection of our next president.

Jim Nolan ’77
Chair of the Presidential Search Committee

Individuals with disabilities requiring accommodations should contact Theresa Klinger at (607) 274-3836 or We ask that requests for accommodations be made as soon as possible.

Originally published in Intercom: December 2 Update on Presidential Search