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Committee Ramps Up Search for Next President

Jules Struck ’19 and Aleksander Bossakov ’20

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On Monday, Sept. 12, the Presidential Search Committee tasked with finding Dickinson’s next president held three informational open forums in Allison Hall for students, faculty, and Carlisle residents to share their thoughts on the process. Only a handful of upperclassmen attended the event.

The committee is made up of faculty, students, administrators, alumni and trustees, and is chaired by Jim Chambers ’78. They announced their partnership with executive search firm Isaacson, Miller in a campus-wide email on July 27. According to Jane Gruenebaum, the managing vice-president of the firm, Isaacson, Miller will serve as “the staff to the committee.”

The committee hopes to find the next president by the first quarter of next year, but they “are not going to close the search until we find the right person,” says Chambers.

Three representatives from the firm, Jeff Kessner, Jennifer Cergnan and Gruenebaum, ran the informational sessions. All three are graduates from liberal arts schools. The intent of the team’s visit was to hear the “expectations and desired qualifications for the next president” from staff, students and faculty, according to a Sept. 5 email to the Dickinson community from Presidential Search Committee Coordinator Karen Neely Faryniak ’86.

The committee is just starting to put out feelers for the next president – over the summer the committee focused on “getting organized,” says Chambers, and the timeline for the hiring process is currently “emerging.” At the moment, the team is focused on hearing input about “more where the institution needs to go, not so specific about the person at this point…”

Following Monday’s and Tuesday’s information sessions, the team will use the information gathered to “… profile the job based on what skills are needed to get us where we want to go,” says Chambers. The official job profile will be released in early October, according to Chambers, and most of the fall will be spent “soliciting candidates.”

Isaacson, Miller will be “using their network to look for people who they think are qualified candidates,” says Chambers. “They’re going to have to do a lot of work… But they do this all day every day. They know who’s out there.”

Students raised a number of issues in the forums: support for Dickinson’s shared governance model, focus on student life, the divide between faculty and administration, and broader dialogue. One student expressed his desire for a more active student body. Another senior who self-identified as a student of color spoke of her perception of a racial divide between Dickinson and the Carlisle community. She called for the next president to advocate for Dickinson in the broader community.

Others expressed their desire for the next president to show active engagement in the community and visibility on campus, as they felt these qualities are instrumental in forming a productive relationship between the president and the student body. Students emphasized the importance of fundraising expertise, citing a need for renovations in the HUB and on-campus residences.

The committee will also be reaching out to the Carlisle community for input, says Chambers, as “having open communications going both ways is nothing but good… the relationship [between Dickinson and Carlisle] is just absolutely critical.”

The committee’s end game, according to Chambers, is simple: “to hire the best possible president we can for Dickinson College.”

Students and faculty can submit input to the Presidential Search Committee anytime through [email protected]

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Committee Ramps Up Search for Next President