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Ensuring Diversity in a Presidential Search

Ensuring Diversity in a Presidential Search

A recent Trusteeship article on the presidential search process includes a sidebar by Rod McDavis, managing principal of AGB Search, on the importance of creating a diverse candidate pool. The sidebar is excerpted and adapted below. Read the full text—and the related article on presidential search by Grant Callery, a member of the Marietta College board of trustees—here.

Today’s educational landscape requires presidents to possess different talents and skills than in the past. Remarkably, however, the profile of a typical college or university president hasn’t changed much over the past 30 years. A 2016 AGB survey found that the vast majority of public and independent presidents are male (75.9 percent among publics and 72.6 percent among independents) and white (77 percent among publics and 86.8 percent among independents). Racial and ethnic minorities represent only 16.9 percent of presidents at public institutions and 7.7 percent at independents.

Moreover, aspiring LGBTQ candidates continue to face barriers for top leadership positions. The limitations and related discussions led to an informal network of presidents forming their own organization, LGBTQ Presidents in Higher Education, in 2010.

Governing boards have a unique opportunity to guide their institutions into a successful new era by rejecting the status quo and selecting leaders through purposeful inclusion. This means opening the door to a diverse pool of candidates and being explicit—with the search committee, the board at large, the campus community, and the candidates themselves—that inclusion is the surest path to excellence. 

Strong leadership is not restricted by gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. Tapping broad reservoirs of talent ensures that the institution avails itself of a wide spectrum of skills and experience—and attracts the best candidates for the position. Creating a diverse candidate pool should be an institutional imperative.

For more information on how AGB Search consultants can assist in the presidential search process, visit the AGB Search website.

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