Search process for new University president being planned
On the final day of a two-day retreat (Aug. 26), Penn State trustees discussed the pending search for a new University president to replace Rodney Erickson when he retires in less than two years. The search is expected to start in earnest in early 2013.
Erickson, who took over in November as Penn State’s 17th president, is expected to retire on or before June 30 2014, as was announced previously. Since the search for a university president is generally a lengthy process, plans for naming several special committees to outline procedures and establish criteria and qualifications of candidates will begin soon, according to Trustee James Broadhurst, chairman of the board’s Committee on Governance and Long-Range Planning.
Broadhurst said that about a dozen individuals will be named in September to a Trustee Presidential Council headed by Board Chairwoman Karen Peetz. The makeup of this newly created group is expected to include Keith Masser, vice chairman of the board; and the chairman of each of the board’s six standing committees. In addition a representative from the following groups also will be selected: the Hershey Medical Center Board of Directors; the fundraising campaign, For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students; and the student body.
The charge of this Trustee Presidential Council will be to establish the criteria, qualifications and experience the University is seeking in its next president. The council also will set a timetable and establish a screening committee made up of deans, faculty, students, administrative staff and alumni. This committee will consider and screen candidates, working closely with a national search firm and recommend candidates to be interviewed for the post.
Broadhurst emphasized that searches at this level require “100 percent confidentiality,” given the nature of the position and Penn State's hopes of attracting the best possible candidate, who may be a sitting president elsewhere.
Current President Erickson said the position of university president has changed much over the decade, with far more internal and external demands being placed on the leaders of public institutions. Erickson, who will not be involved in any part of the search process, recommended that trustees cast their net broadly to attract the best candidates with the necessary experience for the post and look for candidates that possess the values that match those of the Penn State community.
“The pool in general is not as deep as it was 10 years ago, but it only takes one great person,” Erickson said. “Penn State is a world-class institution and one of the top public research universities in the country. I think you will have a number of really excellent candidates.”