AGB search firm visits campus, jumpstarts presidential search

Two members from the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges search firm arrived at Marshall University Sunday to prepare for a series of meetings concerning the university’s current presidential search.

Representatives Jim Lanier and Arnold Speert met with the Marshall Board of Governors and other university leaders Monday to better understand what characteristics the university is looking for in its next president.

Lanier and Speert will also have an open forum session for faculty, staff and students at 1:15 p.m. Tuesday in the Shawkey Dining Room.

The pair will conclude their visit on campus Wednesday after meeting with Michael Sellards, Board of Governors chairman, and Layton Cottril, senior vice president for executive affairs.

Interim President Gary White said after the meetings are finished, Lanier and Speert will use the feedback they gathered to customize the advertisement for Marshall’s 37th president.

“This is always hard to predict, but it appears that there is a     pretty good pool of applicants available,” White said. “We expect that those applicants will make application, and that population     will be identified in late March or early April.”

White said Marshall has a great advantage by partnering with AGB because it had previously visited the campus to evaluate President Stephen J. Kopp while he was still in office.

“Every search that I’ve been involved in, there’s a learning process,” White said. “The search firm has to come to campus. They have to learn our culture. They have to learn our university and who we are in order to properly represent us and find us a good leader. That process has already occurred with the board.”

White said another advantage of using this particular search firm is its networking abilities.

“Perhaps one of the greatest values of having a good search firm is not their ability to attract applications from good folks, of course they have to do that,” White said. “But more importantly what I believe is they have personal relationships with senior leaders of institutions all across the United States.”

White said the firm has the ability to personally call individuals who they believe will best fit Marshall’s culture and inform them about the position.

“All of a sudden you may end up with two or three serious applicants who were not applicants in the beginning because they did not see it as something they were interested in,” White said. “But after they talked with the consultant they decided to do this. I think the process will move forward, and it will be a successful process.”

White said there is a slight chance the first round of candidates may not have anyone who the search committee believes is a good fit.

“This is not something that I hope will happen,” White said. “But, if we don’t collectively agree on the applicants, then we’ll just dust off our britches and go back into the process again. It’s more important to find the right person then it is to do it quickly.”

White said he plans to do everything in his power to make sure the system runs smoothly.

Amy Napier can be contacted at [email protected]