Finding the Best to Lead Higher Education 

Herman A. Berliner
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
Lawrence Herbert Distinguished Professor
Hofstra University
TIAA-CREF Institute Fellow

Liora Pedhazur Schmelkin
Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Dean of Graduate Studies
Leo A. Guthart Distinguished Professor of Teaching Excellence
Professor of Psychology
Hofstra University

September 2008 |

Identification and recruitment of effective senior administration is crucial to the ongoing success of a college or university and to the ongoing vitality of higher education in general. A truly successful search for senior-level leadership does not merely yield a final candidate who is hired, rather it produces a hire that turns out to be effective in the position and a good fit for the institution in the long-term. A previous Advancing Higher Education examined ways to make senior administrative positions more attractive to potential candidates, especially current faculty. This paper presents a primer of factors to consider before, during, and after the search process. Issues examined include the selection, size and composition of the search committee; the development of a robust candidate pool, accounting for issues of diversity, consideration of external versus internal candidates, consideration of an acting for the permanent position, and whether to use an executive search firm; the development of an effective and efficient interview process, including the appropriate number of candidates to interview, scheduling and location of interviews, and the content and procedure of the interview itself; the appropriate number of finalists; necessary checks with both official references and off-list references; reaching a contractual agreement with the finalist and planning for the unexpected; and the importance of an effective orientation program for the new administrator hire.

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