Dec. 3 Update From the Presidential Search Committee Chair
I would like to update you on the presidential search process.
After recruiting actively throughout the fall, over the past several weeks the search committee identified and began interviewing the candidates we judged best equipped to meet the qualifications and objectives articulated in the leadership profile for the next president.
We initially were working to recommend a candidate to the board of trustees in December. However, the committee has taken more time than initially planned to conduct interviews, and we now expect that we will make our recommendation in the new year. We are satisfied with our progress and very pleased with the quality of the candidates. Everything is running smoothly, but scheduling around the holidays has been challenging, and the committee requires additional time to complete our interviews. Thereafter, we will determine the candidates who will participate in the finalist interview process.
We have not yet determined how many candidates will participate in the finalist interview process. We also have not determined the timetable for finalist interviews, or whether the finalist interviews will include open forums for the entire St. Thomas community.
The search committee recognizes and appreciates the benefits of an open process that provides everyone in the community with an opportunity to offer feedback on the candidates, and enables the candidates to engage with more members of our community. At the same time, an open process has potentially significant costs. Some candidates may not be comfortable with being identified publicly because it could raise questions about their commitment to their current institution. The consequences of this are particularly challenging for candidates who are not selected as the nominee. As a result, it is not uncommon for presidential candidates to withdraw rather than participate in an open interview process.
The search committee’s charge is to identify and nominate the best qualified candidate for the St. Thomas presidency. If we expect finalists to withdraw if the process is not confidential, it would be short-sighted not to consider alternatives that enable us to fulfill our charge while providing for sufficient engagement between the candidates and our community, to ensure a good mutual fit and a successful start for the new president. We believe this can be accomplished through a confidential process, in which selected community members beyond the search committee are invited to meet with the finalists and provide feedback to the committee, so long as they agree to keep the candidates’ identities confidential.
When we have identified finalists and determined the details of the finalist interview process, we will update the community. The search committee is committed to ensuring the success of this important process, and we appreciate the support of the St. Thomas community as we continue our work.
If you have questions or comments about the search process, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Dr. John Morrison
Chair, Presidential Search Committee