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Should the Retiring President be on the Search Committee?

Should the Retiring President be on the Search Committee?

This question is taken from AGB Search‘s monthly newsletter, “Securing Leadership,” which features two questions — one frequently asked by search committee members and another often posed by candidates. You can subscribe to the newsletter here.

From a search committee: Our president, admired and about to retire, wants to play an active role in the search for her successor. Should she?

logo_agbu_smallYou can also learn more about presidential search with Jamie Ferrare and AGB University.  See these videos here.

A limited role will be best.  A presidential search is an important occasion for a board and the larger community to take stock and ask, What does this institution need next from its presidency?  What are our challenges in the years ahead and how do they speak to what we need next in presidential leadership?  This is a time, then, for the board itself to grapple with and take responsibility for the future of the institution.  In turn, the board’s search committee should enact a search that reflects the board’s own best understanding of what is needed next.  A board that looks backward, that defers, that entertains “back door” influence undermines itself.

Presidential search is not about short cuts and sticking the next person in there but about founding a successful next presidency that a board will own and all can embrace.

The right roles for your departing president may be three.

  • First, given her knowledge of the institution and personal networks, she may want to suggest potential candidates to the search consultant.
  • Second, she will serve as a resource for candidates visiting campus.  They, of course, wish to meet with the president; who knows better the history and demands of the position?  In those candidate meetings, the president is not the interviewer or assessor but a responder to questions.  After such meetings, she may share observations or concerns with the search committee chair.
  • Third, the departing president will play an important role in orienting her successor and supporting the transition.

 

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