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Presidential Search Firm Selected

Senior consultants from Spencer Stuart will be on campus in early April

Presidential search firm chosen.

In January 2012 when William G. Durden ’71 announced that he would retire as president of the college effective June 30, 2013, Thomas Kalaris ’76, chair of the presidential search committee and vice chair on the board of trustees and Jennifer Ward Reynolds ’77, chair of the board of trustees, committed to updating the Dickinson community periodically throughout the search process.


In late February, a 17-member presidential search committee was formed consisting of trustees, alumni, faculty and students. According to Kalaris, “Every one of us is committed to finding the best candidate to bring forward to the full board of trustees as the college’s next president.”

The first major decision of the presidential search committee was to select a national search firm. “A critical factor in this process was the opportunity for the campus community to meet with representatives of the selected firm as they begin their work with us—particularly in terms of learning our desired qualities and qualifications for the next president,” said Kalaris. “It’s important that all of our key constituencies have the opportunity to engage in what must be, by definition, a robust dialogue.”

After reviewing proposals, a decision was made and announced today in an e-mail to the entire Dickinson community.

Presidential Search Committee Update

March 30, 2012

To the Dickinson Community:

As Jennifer Ward Reynolds ’77 and I expressed in our note to you of late February, the first task of the Presidential Search Committee was to choose a search firm to assist us in managing the process of selecting Dickinson’s next president. We are pleased to inform you that, after a detailed and rigorous evaluation, the committee has asked Spencer Stuart, a globally recognized leader in executive placement, to work with us in this regard.

Among the important selection criteria were:
an understanding of the ethos of the liberal-arts setting, in addition to perspectives from other sectors, to inform our search
a consultant team of professionals that will interact constructively with our multiple stakeholders in order to understand Dickinson’s culture, distinctive qualities and strengths
a state-of-the-art firm with the broad resources and advanced technology to support a national search of the highest caliber
and proven success in recruiting candidates from a broad range of backgrounds.

From the large pool of firms interested in working with us, we chose three firms to interview in person in New York last week; afterwards we followed up with reference checks with candidates previously placed by Spencer Stuart and with other heads of search committees, faculty and staff who had worked with them. The references were glowing.

The two senior consultants who will be assisting us—Michele Haertel and Mary Gorman—are members of the firm’s Education, Nonprofit and Government practice. A graduate of Holy Cross College, Michele heads the firm's Academia Practice. She has handled presidential transitions including Wesleyan University, Barnard College and Mt. Holyoke College. Mary received her bachelor's degree from Middlebury College and her master's from the School of Management at Yale University. She also brings more than 20 years of leadership experience in higher education to her role. Michele and Mary are known for sourcing and placing dynamic leaders in senior academic leadership positions which was immediately evident in our referencing. In our interview with them, it also was clear that they would be very capable of embodying the spirit and ethos of Dickinson.

One of the most important steps in this multi-month process is to ensure that we incorporate the views of all members of the Dickinson community in determining the precise characteristics and qualities that we want in our next president. We expect to devote much of the balance of the academic year to doing just that.

Michele and Mary will be in Carlisle from April 9-11 meeting with various groups on campus including students, faculty, administration, staff, parents, local alumni and members of the Carlisle community. We also have asked them to drop into classes, have dinner in the cafeteria and visit local Carlisle establishments—to use Bill Durden's often heard words—to be "fully engaged." Some of the discussions will consist of small groups, others large, and of course an important element will be random encounters during the week they are with us.

Subsequently, they will return on April 20 to meet with the Board of Trustees. Later that month and into the month of May we will be holding listening sessions in Washington, Philadelphia and New York so that alumni and parents in those areas will be able to share their thoughts with the consultants. There also will be a global chat session organized to ensure that we have the widest feedback possible.

We will be arranging the schedule of meetings in the next few days.

From all the work with the Dickinson community we will construct a detailed position description. Spencer Stuart will use this as a guide in their recruiting of candidates over the summer and fall.

I am sure you are as excited as we are to begin the process.

Finally, a number of you have written to the committee with your comments and suggestions. Thank you. We continue to encourage you to do so at

With thanks for your continued support,

Thomas L. Kalaris ’76
On behalf of the Presidential Search Committee

Published March 30, 2012