From the Co-Chairs of the Presidential Search Committee
On behalf of the Presidential Search Committee, we are pleased to update you on our progress in searching for Macalester’s next President. We are offering as detailed an update as we believe is appropriate and useful in an effort to be as transparent as possible.
As we reported in September, the Committee met on campus and discussed the list of candidates that had been identified by the Committee, working closely with our search consultant Spencer Stuart. At that meeting, we distilled a refined list of potentially qualified candidates to a list of highly qualified candidates to meet in person. In this process, we focused on the qualities identified in our leadership profile to inform our selection. The discussion benefited from the presence of our Affirmative Action advisors who made important contributions to the discussion to ensure the Committee thought broadly about the candidates’ strengths. The list of candidates to be interviewed, which was a product of the consensus of the Committee, included candidates of different backgrounds, experiences, and attributes that reflect the mission and values of Macalester.
Also on September 17, available Committee members held a meet and greet on campus that was open to all members of the community, including students, faculty, and staff. At the meet and greet, we listened to input from the community and engaged on a number of topics relating to the mission of the college. The Committee plans to have another meet and greet with members of the community later this semester to continue to receive input on the search.
In subsequent weeks, the Committee prepared for the meetings with candidates. In particular, we prepared a list of questions related to the leadership profile to guide the discussion and determined who would ask which questions during the interviews. By having the same Committee members frame the discussion using consistent questions, we sought to create an environment that allowed candidates to differentiate themselves through their responses and ensured the discussion was rooted in the qualities and topics described in the leadership profile.
On October 14 and 15, the Committee met with nine selected candidates in person to identify those best able to further the mission of the college. While structured, these interviews were dynamic and interactive, and gave us significant insight into the candidates. The Committee was extremely impressed with their caliber, and deliberated extensively in reaching consensus on a smaller number of candidates with whom we will continue discussions.
In the coming weeks, the Search Committee, working with Spencer Stuart, will continue to research and reference continuing candidates while preparing its process for second round interviews.
After consultation with the Board of Trustees and to ensure the process is appropriately deliberate, and where possible, inclusive of input, the Search Committee has revised the target timetable for the search. The Committee expects to hold second round interviews in early November and to present a short list of finalists to the Board of Trustees after those interviews.
Thereafter, and to the extent candidate schedules allow, the Board, working with the Committee, will invite finalists to visit the college and participate in confidential discussions with a group of students, faculty, staff, and trustees. This group of community members will be selected by the Committee in consultation with the Board Chair. This process is consistent with prior practice at Macalester and seeks to promote transparency of process and community input while balancing the privacy and interests of candidates. In particular, the campus meetings will be confidential as candidates may feel they could endanger their current positions if their participation in the process is public and they are unsuccessful in their candidacy.
After these visits, the Search Committee and Spencer Stuart, over late December and January, will complete their findings on the final candidates. These findings will be presented to the Board of Trustees in advance of their January Board meeting (January 30 and 31), when the Board plans to select the next President.
We look forward to updating you on our continued progress, and as always, welcome your feedback at MacalesterPresident@spencerstuart.com.
Carrie Norbin Killoran ’94, Trustee
Michael A. Huber ’90, Trustee
Co-Chairs, Macalester College Presidential Search Committee
(October 23, 2019)