August 21 Update on Presidential Search

August 21 Update on Presidential Search

Contributed by David Maley

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

As we begin the new academic year, I wanted to give you an update on our progress from the Presidential Search Committee. We met and communicated many times during the summer months. Our search firm partner, Spencer Stuart, has been hard at work identifying target profiles, contacting candidates, validating their accomplishments against our desired attributes, and working with us to define a list of candidates for us to meet and interview.

For perspective, because Spencer Stuart is a global organization, the breadth of their reach is extremely wide. They started with a prospect base of over 200 candidates from their own internal sources and from candidates recommended by others familiar with our search—including members of the Ithaca College community. They screened this list to approximately 150 of the most promising prospects who were considered worthy of further review. After defining candidate interest and potential match to our attributes, over 30 candidates were individually reviewed by the search committee. This ‘pool’ of candidates was examined and discussed based on experience, capability, diversity attributes, and their long-term potential, to identify those most applicable to fulfilling our needs as an institution. Subsets of those 30+ candidates were then identified to meet with Spencer Stuart representatives, and a narrowed list of candidates, decided on by the search committee, is now in the process of meeting in person with the committee.

The narrowing process will continue until we eventually agree upon a list of finalists. Those finalists will be brought to campus during the fall to meet with the IC community.

One question I’ve heard during the process has been about whether we’re advertising the position in The Chronicle of Higher Education. We have not. As we’ve worked with the search firm and utilized their network and outreach, the committee has felt confident about matching desired qualifications with potential candidates to get the most capable pool. It is also their experience that advertising, especially for presidential positions, has not proven to be the best method to generate that candidate pool.

Your search committee has been working very hard and very diligently around this process. Although we have not yet reached the stage of finalist identification, I thought I would share some comments from other members of the committee to give you some additional insight.

How do you feel about the search process to this point?

We have seen some very strong candidates so far, and I am excited. We have worked hard with our search firm to identify talented leaders with strong experience with governance and intense commitments to diversity.”—Gabi Starr, Trustee

"I’m feeling both optimistic and a bit overwhelmed at this stage of the search. There are so many candidates with terrific experience and personalities who could contribute a lot to the college. I’m looking forward to getting to know them better and to see better how their own goals and styles match what we need now.”—Diane Gayeski ’74, Dean

As a search committee at this point, we’ve had a chance to sit down with one another, put our heads together, and fervently champion the opportunity to be the next president of the college. What has resulted is a very competitive, energetic, and dynamic candidate pool that I am very excited to bring back to campus. Hearing candidates passionately speak about their visions of the future of the college has been incredibly inspiring, and I’m confident that others will feel the same way.”—Michele Hau ’18, Student

“Optimistic. Impressed by talent of candidates. Enhanced pride in Ithaca College. More informed opinion of Ithaca College as seen from outsiders’ eyes.”—Tom Swensen, Faculty

“I’ve been very excited by the quality of our top candidates so far. I assumed we’d see interest from some great people, but have still been pleasantly surprised by the number of top officials of some very notable schools that are looking into this opportunity.”—Andrew Kosinuk ’06, Staff

What insight or learning have you had so far about the search for the next president of Ithaca College?

“The strongest candidates see Ithaca as a wonderful place to be, and think we can truly take over a leadership role in higher education in the coming years.”—Gabi Starr

“An insight I’ve recently had relates to what characteristics we are asking for in our search documents and making sure that candidates are able and willing to take on all the immediate and pressing challenges we’ve identified as well as the situations we can’t even imagine—including so many that may be rather mundane but still critical. We can’t look for a heroine or hero with a singular focus, but rather someone who can grasp and grapple with the big picture.”—Diane Gayeski

“Learning about and considering the needs of the candidates, not just of the college, has been important so far and will become even more critical. Whether it’s what they want in their next professional opportunity, privacy needs in the search process, or questions and concerns they have about IC, it’s clear that recruiting will continue to run both ways.”—Andrew Kosinuk

“One of the most profound realizations that I’ve had while serving on the search committee is that this is a pivotal moment in the college’s history, and despite all of the different directions we can go, the campus community has widespread unanimous agreement about what lies at the heart of this institution: students. I feel relieved and confident that the IC community is committed and sensitive to the experience of students, especially when hearing about other shifts happening in higher education most broadly.”—Michele Hau

Another question I’ve been asked is about when the finalists will be coming to campus. The committee is optimistic that we are working through the process on the timeline that we’ve established. However, it’s critical for us to complete each step thoroughly before moving to the next phase. Although I remain confident we’re on track, we’re not yet prepared to announce when and how our finalists will come to campus. As I noted in my July message, a subcommittee comprising the on-campus members of the search committee is currently considering ways to make the on-campus engagement of our finalists most beneficial to all. I’m hopeful we’ll be prepared to outline this process sometime in the month of September.

We will continue to keep you updated on a regular basis, and in the meantime wish everyone in the IC community a safe and successful 2016–17!

Jim Nolan ’77, Parent ’01
Chair, Presidential Search Committee