Update on meetings with academic dean search consultant

Hi, all –

I thought I’d follow up my e-mail last night with information from the meetings I attended with the search consultant, Tom Courtice.

First, I have a complete list of the people he met with now. He met with Jane, Kathy Adams, Adrienne, me and Rob Whitnell, Bob Jones (the chair of the trustee academic affairs committee), and Clerk’s Committee. Zhihong was unable to make the Clerk’s meeting due to teaching responsibilities, but the other faculty members attended. Those were me, Tim Lindeman, Sherry Giles, Lisa McLeod, Edwins Gwako, and Steve Shapiro. Our student members did not attend – we are transitioning to a new traditional student member, and our CCE student representative could not make it.

In preparation for his visit, Tom was given the reports from the two community meetings last December where we discussed desired attributes of the next dean. Tom said he thought those covered very well the traits and strengths we were looking for, and gave him what he needed to help us find good candidates. He also got the position summary and supporting materials we used for the presidential search last year, which describe Guilford and its history and ethos. After our lunch meeting, I sent Tom the report from the faculty survey I did last summer.

Here are links to these documents if you’d like to review them:

Notes from December forum #1

Notes from December forum #2

Presidential Search document

Faculty Survey Results

Both meetings I attended with Tom centered on the search for the interim academic dean, his focus for all of today’s visit. It is clear to me now that this will be a one-year position, which we hope to fill by May for a start date this summer. We discussed the search for the permanent academic dean only in the context of the interim dean position. I learned that Tom will also be our search consultant for the permanent position search, which will be organized this summer and fall and then take place next year.

At the lunch meeting, which at Tom’s suggestion we held at the cafeteria (saving the college $50 or so), Rob and I talked with Tom about the challenges facing Guilford, the desires and needs of the faculty as we saw them, the major jobs and tasks that the interim dean will need to do, and some of the history and context of the institution, our academic program, our curriculum, and our faculty governance traditions. We tried to help him identify some of the major tasks that the interim person will need to accomplish.

At the meeting with Clerk’s Committee later in the day, we discussed the likely schedule and process for hiring, and then Tom presented what he saw as the major tasks or goals for the one-year position, which he intends to summarize and distribute to the community. He wanted me to pass them on to you, but asked me to wait until he has a chance to review and edit them, as he was composing them on the fly today. In my opinion, these six or seven major tasks are what you’d expect, including things like managing the current duties of the office, undertaking a review and revision of the academic affairs administrative structure as Jane discussed at faculty meeting, working towards reaccreditation, and building faculty morale and advocating for the academic program. I’ll forward his edited version when he gets it to me.

The process for this appointment is still being developed, but as of now it looks something like the following. Times are speculative, and procedures may change, or I may have some of it wrong, but this is my current understanding:

  • In the next week or so: develop a description of the interim position and its responsibilities and goals. Publish those to the community and solicit feedback.
  • After that: Begin the process of recruiting candidates. This will result in a small pool of no more than 20-30 people, perhaps fewer. Some of these candidates will be external candidates recommended by the search firm. Some will be internal candidates. Any person on campus will be able to apply for the job at this time.
  • Early April: the consultant and Jane will work to narrow the pool to the top candidates, probably in the range of 4-9 people. This process will probably include some initial phone conversations with Jane and Tom and the candidates.
  • Late April: Jane will work with Clerk’s committee to narrow this final pool further to a small number, maybe 4-5 candidates, to interview more formally. Interviews at this stage will likely be by phone or Skype. Clerk’s committee will be part of the interview process at this stage.
  • Late April/Early May: A final candidate or candidates, no more than 1-3, will likely do an on-campus interview, much smaller in scale than the type of interviews we did with the presidential search, probably no more than one day of meetings. At that point, a decision and an offer will be made.

At the same time, we will ask Nominating Committee to nominate faculty members for the search committee for the permanent search. Those faculty, along with some staff members and others, will conduct a much more extensive national search for the permanent dean position. They will likely get started on this work during summer 2015, with the hope that we can advertise the position starting in fall 2015. Again, internal and external candidates will be welcome to apply for the permanent position.

In both meetings, we discussed what kind of person we might want, and whether that person was more likely to be internal or external. Tom recommended that we have an open application for those on campus, along with hand-picked or recruited external candidates. He said that, for an interim position like this, external candidates are likely to be seasoned, late-career or recently retired academic administrators. This is obviously a contrast to likely internal candidates, who would know the institution well but would not have as much academic administration experience. There are costs and benefits to each path, and Tom recommended we see what pool of applicants we are able to assemble before deciding how to proceed.

Note on governance: There is a potential issue here that I want to try to be very clear about. The faculty handbook indicates in section 1.400 that Nominating Committee provides faculty for search committees for VP level positions of the college. We are doing this for the permanent search, as we have for other VP-level searches this year. For the interim search, because of time constraints and to keep the process streamlined, Jane asked if Clerk’s Committee could consult with her for the interim position rather than having a formal search committee constructed.

Clerk’s Committee, who are tasked with interpreting the handbook, had an extended discussion about this issue after we finished meeting with Tom. We concluded that, for an interim position, the president could select whomever she wished for the job without a committee, as happened with the interim VP for Student Life and interim VP for Finance last summer. Some on Clerk’s Committee thought there was historical precedent for doing this the last time we had an interim dean position as well, although I haven’t run down the research on this myself. Therefore, we concluded that section 1.400 of the handbook didn’t apply and hasn’t been applied to interim appointments, and we were OK with Clerk’s serving the consulting role that Jane requested in this search. We were also grateful that direct representative faculty input would be included rather than just having a person named interim dean.

Obviously, if any member of Clerk’s Committee applies for the position, that person would be replaced immediately in the consulting group considering candidates so as to maintain divisional representation. This would be done through Nominating as we do when Clerk’s needs replacement members to consider study leave applications or position requests.

Request for Feedback: Clerk’s will revisit the interim dean search issue in our regular meeting on Monday at 8:30. If you have ideas, comments, opinions, or criticisms of anything you see here, please communicate them to me and/or to your divisional Clerk’s Committee representative. Clerk’s committee members are as follows:

Dave Dobson, Clerk
Zhihong Chen, Recording Clerk
Sherry Giles, BPS
Tim Lindeman, Arts
Edwins Gwako, Social Sciences
Lisa McLeod, Humanities
Steve Shapiro, NSM
Jeffrey Ray, CCE rep
Caleb Anderson, traditional student rep
Adrienne Israel, Dean

If you’d like to comment in public or start a discussion, I’ve created a discussion space on the Moon Room site for this purpose. It’s available here:


Finally, the consultant welcomes your feedback directly by e-mail, and he provided this address:


Feel free to write him directly with any concern, question, or comment you might have.

Please let me know if you have any concerns, or if you’d like any more information. If I know it, I will tell you, and if I don’t, I’ll try to find out.