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Search begins with input from open forums

Nov. 3, 2006

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University students, staff, faculty and alumni, as well as members of the Kalamazoo community, helped launch the University's search for its eighth president by offering their views Nov. 1 on the qualities the ideal candidate will have.

In three public sessions, attendees expressed their views to members of the University's Presidential Search Advisory Committee: Trustee Ken Miller of Kalamazoo, the committee's leader: and representatives of Baker Parker Associates of Atlanta, the firm the University has hired to help coordinate the search process.

Those attending called for a broad range of skills and qualities, from sterling academic credentials international experience and a respect for the institution's traditions to an appreciation for complexity of the institution, the ability to offer a leadership vision the campus can embrace and a demonstrated love for higher education and for meeting student needs.

The committee and search firm representatives posed follow-up questions throughout each forum and made it clear they want the campus engagement to continue.

"This is not a search firm-driven process. This will be a committee-driven process," said Miller in introducing the Baker Parker representatives. "WMU is a large, complex institution--one of the largest in the nation, and we wanted a firm with the extensive experience in conducting searches for such institutions. With more than 500 searches completed, they have the extensive experience with Big Ten schools and MAC schools."

Miller said the committee will move quickly in drafting a position description using the input secured from the three forums and other meetings on the campus and in the community. The plan, he noted is to have finalists on campus in April with the hope of having a new president in place by the beginning of July.

"We'll be working throughout the process to strike a balance between protection and discretion and transparency," he said. "If you become a finalist, you will be publicly vetted through visits and presentations on campus."

Dan Parker, a principal with the search firm, will coordinate the WMU effort. During the public forums, he repeatedly asked those attending to make suggestions and nominate candidates.

"We are an inclusive search firm," he said. "We will consider, on behalf of the committee, any candidate suggested. Our job is to recruit, advise and facilitate. We will deliver a broad and diverse pool of candidates for consideration."

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, (269) 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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