Picking a College President



It’s a time of transition for Ohio colleges and universities. Kent State and the University of Akron will bid farewell to their presidents next summer, as will several community colleges, and OSU has hired a consulting firm to help with their current presidential search. This hour we’ll look at the changing role of university presidents, and discuss whether schools should be run more like Wal Mart or the Red Cross.



  • Jack Stripling, Senior Reporter at The Chronicle of Higher Education 
  • Jessica S. Kozloff, President of ACADEMIC SEARCH, INC.
  • Dale T. Knobel, President Emeritus- Denison University

Join The Conversation

  • Edward J. Valeau

    Picking a College President is not an exact science and weighted with challenges related institutional need, readiness, and preparation to participate in an internal ,serious conversation about the characteristics and competencies required of the President and what the board and the college community are willing to do to help the person chosen to be successful.
    The question assumes that colleges and universities are not being run effectively and that a business model is needed. It is the wrong assumption because it defies the history, intent, and culture of the uniqueness of higher education management and its responsibility to educate the citizenry. Besides, most business models are unique to the product they offer and with the exception of ” For Profit Schools” few ever engage in mass education.
    Instead, we should begin the conversation by asking what has made the institution great and why? What are the environmental factors impacting the institution and how can they be managed to propel it to expanded greatness. What is the culture and how and if it is changing? Where are we going and why?
    Colleges and universities are living organizations subject to all the challenges of any living organism and change offers an opportunity for renewal and the careful selection of the president is generally the most important trigger.
    As the founder and Senior Partner of the ELS Group, a CEO Executive Search firm in Northern California, I would offer this:
    1. Do not rush the process
    2. Gather information and share it across the campus and throughout the community
    3. Meaningfully engage the external community in the process
    4. Take time to really inform the search committee of its role and that of the Board of Trustees
    5. Make it easy for the candidates to access relevant data and information regarding the college and let them know all sides of the institutions challenges
    Edward J. Valeau
    Founder/Senior Partner
    The ELS Group, LLC