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ISSUE 119 VOL 8 PUBLISHED 11/11/2005

New president sought

By Emelie Heltsley
Staff Writer

Friday, November 11, 2005

Members of the Presidential Search Committee have made several important decisions during the first few months of the academic year that will guide them in their search for St. Olaf’s new president.

Decisions the committee has made so far include choosing a consulting firm that specializes in finding senior leaders, agreeing on and posting a position specification for the presidency on the St. Olaf website and announcing their goal of having a new president by July 2006.

The Presidential Search Committee is a 12-member group made up of eight members of the St. Olaf Board of Regents, one student representative, two faculty members and a representative from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Division of Higher Education.

"The Board of Regents has the responsibility to select a president and to decide how to go about the process," Professor of physics David Nitz ’'73 said.

As one of two faculty members on the Presidential Search Committee, Nitz explained how the committee interviewed four senior leader search firms in August and decided to hire SpencerStuart to represent the college and its interests.

Paula Carabelli and Susan Boren, consultants from the firm, spent a day on campus earlier this fall meeting with various groups and committees.

In a search update, Boren wrote, "During September, SpencerStuart consultants and members of the Search Committee talked with and met St. Olaf faculty, students, staff, alumni, the Board of Regents and friends of the college to hear about aspirations for our next president."

A forum open to students was offered during the consultants’ visit, but, as the other faculty member on the committee, Associate Professor of Social Work and Department Chair of Family and Social Service Mary Carlsen ‘'79 said, only 25-30 students attended the forum.

"It was a rather small group, but those who showed up had a lot to say," she said.

The Presidential Search Committee has recently posted a job description on the St. Olaf website.

"Based on these conversations in October, a Position Specification was finalized and is now on the St. Olaf website," Boren wrote. "Advertisements were placed on The Lutheran and The Chronicle of Higher Education websites and SpencerStuart has been conducting its national research."

Currently, the Presidential Search Committee has a long list of names. The SpencerStuart consultants will contact people on the list as well as other candidates who may be mentioned, and will encourage them to look at the job specification and consider sending in a resume.

Finally, the Presidential Search Committee has named July 1, 2006, as its target date for a new president to begin work.

While the committee would like to have a new president by July 1, both Nitz and Carlsen said that the date is not set in stone.

"There is a variety of things that might impact [the date]," Nitz said.

Nitz said that while people interested and involved in St. Olaf may want to know the specifics of the search process, much of the work is confidential in nature.

"It will go quiet for a while," Nitz said. "We are at the point where resumes will be submitted, consultants will be calling applicants and people will be reviewing resumes."

Carlsen said that this stage of the search will focus on building the candidate pool.

"We will see how many candidates we have the opportunity to consider," she said.

Representatives from SpencerStuart said that during the months of November and December, they will start to have "confidential discussions with sources and potential candidates."

Carlsen said that while all the previous presidents of St. Olaf have been male, the next president of St. Olaf could be female.

"We are hopeful that there will be strong female candidates," she said.

In the meantime, the Search Committee and representatives from SpencerStuart have made it a priority to be available to students and faculty.

"The Search Committee is very grateful for the active participation of the St Olaf community in this important process," stated the SpencerStuart press release. "We hope you will continue to forward any interested parties to us so that they can be included in our deliberations."

Both students and faculty have already responded in great numbers to the presidential search, according to the Search Committee.

"We are present and available as much as possible to hear people’s priorities and questions," Carlsen said. "We are committed to as much openness as possible."

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