WMU News

WMU seeks 'progressive, inclusive' leader as next president

Oct. 31, 1997

KALAMAZOO -- Western Michigan University seeks as its next president "a leader with a progressive, inclusive leadership style who can build a shared sense of unity and purpose among all University constituencies," according to a position specification for the job approved Oct. 31 by the WMU Board of Trustees.

This leader, the specification states, "will have a proven commitment to the value of undergraduate education and to the special value of combining studies in the liberal arts and sciences with professional, career-oriented education."

Leading candidates must show "a lucid understanding of the challenges currently faced by the University, to formulate a clear academic and organizational vision for the future of the University, and to explain how that vision can be realized."

The University's current president, Dr. Diether H. Haenicke, announced in June that he would retire from the presidency next July to return to the faculty. He will have served 13 years as WMU's chief executive officer, and is currently third in seniority among the state's 15 public university presidents.

The position specification was recommended by the Presidential Search Advisory Committee as well as the WMU trustees who are not members of the committee. The specification was developed by the University's search consultant, Korn/Ferry International. It will be used in selecting candidates for the position, which currently is being advertised.

In addition to conducting two sessions with representatives of constituency groups and a public session, the consultant also gathered input from a wide range of other individuals and groups. Constituency groups included faculty members, students, staff members, administrators, alumni and the general public. The Presidential Search Advisory Committee includes representatives of those groups as well as three members of the Board of Trustees.

"This broad approach is in keeping with the intent of the Board of Trustees to have as much participation and input as possible in the search process," said Trustee Richard F. Chormann of Kalamazoo, vice chairperson of the Presidential Search Advisory Committee. "The specification details the desired profile for the next president of Western Michigan University."

Working "in close consultation with the Board of Trustees and a wide range of internal and external constituencies," the next president is expected to accomplish a variety of tasks. They include continuing to strengthen and develop the University; formulating, communicating and championing long-range strategic plans, "making certain that they are effectively implemented"; and building the capability of employees by "attracting, retaining and developing them."

The next president is expected to oversee all education programs, working with and through the provost and academic deans, and to plan and administer an effective institutional budget.

The next president also should be "an active leader in fund raising, alumni affairs, public relations and legislative relations of the University," the profile states. He or she also is expected to serve as the University's chief spokesperson, "reflecting and enhancing its standing within Michigan, the United States and the world."

The successful candidate will develop "a comprehensive institutional plan" to achieve a number of goals. They include moving the University toward Research II Carnegie classification; delivering quality programs within available resources; and expanding University-community understanding.

Other goals include continuing to improve diversity among faculty and students, increasing legislative appropriations, developing a strategy to deal with increased competition, overseeing a planned centennial capital campaign and engaging the University community more broadly in fund-raising activities.

Finally, the next president's goals include strengthening alumni and fund-raising programs and the institutional planning process as well as implementing quality management throughout the University, "striving for improvement in all areas."

The profile spelled out that, in addition to the necessary "intellectual perspective, academic background and administrative abilities," the next president of WMU will be expected "to exhibit personal qualities and sound judgment that will be critical to the success of its growth and improvement efforts."

The Board of Trustees established the Presidential Search Advisory Committee in July and named three trustees to it: Richard G. Haworth, chairperson of the Board of Trustees and chairperson of the committee; Chormann; and Lori B. Waddles, vice chairperson of the board.

A total of 44 persons became members of the two constituent groups that were interviewed by the search consultant, Dr. John H. Kuhnle (pron. KOON-lee), managing vice president of Korn/Ferry's education practice in Washington, D.C., and Haworth. These persons were nominated by their respective constituency groups.

Seven of them were selected to be members of the Presidential Search Advisory Committee in addition to the three trustees. Their appointments were announced Oct. 1. Constituency and public sessions were conducted Oct. 8 and 9 on campus.

Using the approved specification, the committee will seek out candidates "observing the equal opportunity/affirmative action and other relevant personnel policies and applicable state and federal law and following proven procedures that will lead to the appointment of the best qualified person for the presidency," the board stated in a resolution establishing the committee.

By spring 1998, the committee expects to present the names of five unranked finalists to the full board. Once five candidates are identified, the board by law must wait 30 days before making an appointment. The finalists will be invited to the campus for public presentations. They also will be interviewed in public sessions of the Board of Trustees.

Individuals are encouraged to contact the Presidential Search Advisory Committee through its secretary, Betty A. Kocher, secretary to the Board of Trustees. Her telephone number is 616 387-2360 and her e-mail address is betty.kocher@wmich.edu. The latest information on the search is available by telephone at 616 387-4004 and on the World Wide Web at www.wmich.edu/wmu/search/

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