April 2012 Search Update
The following e-mail was distributed to Dickinson community members on April 27, 2012.
To the Dickinson Community:
On behalf of the Presidential Search Committee, I would like to update you on the progress of the search for Dickinson’s 28th president. As announced in our last communication at the end of March, our search consultants from Spencer Stuart planned to spend time at the college learning about the campus, its people, ethos and history—and indeed, they did.
In mid-April, our consultants Mary Gorman and Michele Haertel spent three days on campus becoming immersed in all things Dickinson. They held 32 meetings and spoke with more than 225 Dickinsonians including students, faculty, administrators, support staff, retirees, local alumni and Carlisle community leaders. In addition to gaining a clearer sense of the distinctiveness of Dickinson, as well as the challenges facing the college, they acquired an understanding of its culture and the region—they even hit the Milt and Fay’s! This information and these impressions—along with conversations with the search committee, input from upcoming alumni and parent meetings in major cities and e-mail feedback from the Dickinson community—will help the Spencer Stuart team prepare the draft opportunity statement, speak with nuance and authenticity about the college and develop the slate of candidates.
In each of these meetings, Michele and Mary asked four questions:
- What is most distinctive about Dickinson College that must be preserved and should remain vital?
- What opportunities and challenges will the next president of Dickinson face?
- What skills, attributes and experiences do you view as essential for a new president to succeed as Dickinson’s leader?
- What advice do you have for the members of the search committee?
Not surprisingly, the Spencer Stuart team heard consistent themes that will resonate with the Dickinson community:
- the importance of the Dickinson narrative
- the deeply held belief in the value and centrality of Dickinson’s special brand of a liberal-arts education
- the college’s national reputation in global education, sustainability and security studies
- the long history of shared governance and the effective team of the president, provost and faculty members
- the spirit of entrepreneurship on campus
- and the institution’s collegial, trusting, respectful community.
The Dickinson community also spoke about the college’s significant transformation during the last two decades and the across-the-board commitment to continuing this progress. Mary and Michele learned about the ambitions of the campus community for improved facilities, additional financial-aid funds to support the best students and the desire to continue to be an innovative, risk-taking institution. And, of course, they left with a great appreciation for the community’s admiration of Bill Durden ’71 and his all-encompassing devotion to the school.
The week following this visit, Mary and Michele returned to campus to meet with the Board of Trustees during its April meeting. Their goal was to discuss the search process and to share the themes they heard during their extended campus visit. In describing the search process, they relayed that during the next several months, the search committee will engage in an intense process to identify the college’s next president. It will be an iterative, customized process, in which the search committee, supported by Spencer Stuart, will vet and assess a broad pool of potential prospects. As the members of the committee begin to focus on specific candidates, they will engage in a series of formal and informal engagement meetings, getting to know the potential prospects in a variety of settings, before making a recommendation to the Board of Trustees. We anticipate that the process will be concluded in time for a smooth transition from the Durden presidency.
Michele and Mary have assured the board that given the history of the college, its strong academic program and its tremendous transformation, they believe that Dickinson is in an enviable position to launch the search. The search committee plans to meet throughout the next several months to engage with leaders across the country and around the globe in discussions about the opportunity to take Dickinson College to the next level.
I will continue to update the community periodically and in the interim, I welcome your comments regarding the search at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With thanks for your continued support,
Thomas L. Kalaris ’76
On behalf of the Presidential Search Committee