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Skidmore College
Presidential Search

Presidential Search Update

November 20, 2019

Dear Members of the Skidmore Community,

As we enter the last phase of our presidential search, we’d like to review the process to date and briefly update you on what’s going on in the presidential search.

As directed by the bylaws of the College which state: “the President of the College shall be elected by a majority vote of the Board of Trustees and shall continue in office at the pleasure of the Board,” the Skidmore Board of Trustees appointed a Presidential Search Committee (PSC), consisting of representatives from the Board, faculty, staff and student body. The charge to this committee was to lead the process to identify an outstanding and diverse set of candidates and to recommend to the Board the best candidate(s) for their consideration and approval.

In order to populate the committee, the co-chairs of the committee reached out to leaders from each stakeholder group. Members of the Appointments and Tenure Committee (ATC), Faculty Executive Committee (FEC), the faculty appointed to the Institutional Policy and Planning Committee (IPPC), the Student Government Association (SGA), the Staff Advisory Group (SAG) and the staff appointed to the IPPC all were instrumental in establishing and executing a process for identifying their respective representatives to the PSC.

As communicated in our October 9 search update, at the beginning of the search process, the committee established and has adhered to “Community Norms” which have provided the framework for how members of the committee work together in a spirit of equality, inclusion, and respect. We also used a rubric established by the committee to evaluate each candidate in a consistent, fair, and open way. Based on advice we received on best practices, the committee agreed to conduct a “confidential” search. We understood that confidentiality was essential in the search if we wanted to attract the most qualified candidates. This is now the norm for Presidential searches, in particular for private liberal arts colleges. Skidmore’s “confidential” search is not to be confused with a “closed” or “secret” search. It is a strategy which ensures a necessary level of confidentiality to prospective candidates, while allowing for as much stakeholder input as possible. 

It is important to note that the committee has sought input from all the key stakeholder groups early and often in the process, seeking input on the desired attributes of the next president and issuing a call for candidate recommendations/nominations. All candidate suggestions were followed up by our search consultants from Storbeck Pimentel.  

In our continued efforts to include input from all stakeholder groups, the committee agreed to increase access to the final candidates, going beyond PSC members.  To that end, we designed a plan for campus visits which would allow time for select members of stakeholder groups to meet with the final candidates. To identify participants, we once again reached out to the elected/appointed leaders of each stakeholder group for guidance. We asked only that the group be inclusive, that participants be available for all interviews, and that they agree to sign the same confidentiality agreement that was signed by all members of the PSC and the Board of Trustees.  In addition to the faculty, staff and student stakeholder groups, the final candidates will also meet with the President’s Cabinet, direct reports, current and emeriti trustees, and several community leaders.

The purpose of the enlarged meetings with the final candidates is threefold:

  • To gather additional input on the candidates to be shared with the entire search committee to help the committee formulate its recommendation to the Board of Trustees.
  • To enable the candidates to get to know Skidmore better, allowing final candidates to use this time to glean as much as possible about the climate, opportunities and challenges for the college. We of course hope all involved will represent the College in a positive light.
  • To start the process to build broadest possible stakeholder support to ensure a successful transition to the new president.

Following their meeting with the final candidates, each participant from each stakeholder group will be provided with a survey designed to collect their feedback. This information will be considered by the PSC as we review all components of the interview process and deliberate on our final recommendation to the Board.

If you have followed our previous updates, you know that the committee has worked diligently to establish and maintain a fair and careful process designed to identify, recruit and evaluate a talented and diverse pool of candidates. We are proud to work alongside an incredible group of thoughtful individuals who have given – and continue to give – so much of their time and talent to this important effort. We sincerely hope that they are recognized by their colleagues for this excellent work.

Additional questions or comments should be directed to Susan Koppi at skoppi@skidmore.edu who will ensure that they reach us.

Sincerely,

Jon Achenbaum
Maxine Isaacs
Co-Chairs, Presidential Search Committee