President Search Practice
Harris Search Associates is a leading national firm in the field of higher education, research, and academic medicine Presidential search and have successfully conducted over 900 search assignments on behalf of the foremost research and comprehensive universities, research parks, academic medical centers, hospital systems, and organizations driving global innovation.
Each year we conduct a number of President search assignments on behalf of clients and continue to track the next generation of emerging talent. And we are known and trusted by many of the national leaders President search committees hope to attract. This is then complemented by an active research and recruitment strategy to ensure a robust, diverse candidate pool is presented for review, and the assignment is successfully completed efficiently in every President search.
Clearly, the search for a new President is one of the most significant instances of shared governance in the life of a college or university, but it is also one of the most challenging. Although governing boards have the legal responsibility for the selection of a president, the process of selection is fundamental in determining which candidate has the appropriate academic leadership and administrative skills needed to lead the institution.
The office of the Presidency is perceived to be more difficult, demanding, and complex than it once was. If the board doesn’t make a good choice, the institution may be weakened. And, the search process itself is more complex than it used to be. Many constituencies want an active role in the search process, while candidates almost always prefer confidentiality. As President search consultants, we help to strike a balance between these kinds of competing preferences and priorities. The relationships between candidates and institutions can be more effectively managed by an experienced outsider. In some institutions, the search process is highly structured, with the identical treatment of all candidates. In others, there is more flexibility, with board members, committees, and candidates seeking to develop and test their relationships. Committees in the latter situation grapple with questions of equity, but a consultant who has worked with different approaches can help address the benefits and risks of each.
Now, when we conduct a President search, we must attract an outstanding, enterprise-level leader who will be inextricably linked to the strategic direction of an institution. Today’s successful President must be a superb communicator, aligned with the institution’s governing board while simultaneously serving as the public face of the institution, a champion for its leadership team professors, students, and staff members.
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