Diverse group named to help find Penn State's next president

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The process to find a new president for Penn State moved ahead Friday (Jan. 18) with the naming of a cross-section of 18 individuals who will serve on the University Presidential Search and Screen Committee. Current University President Rodney Erickson has announced he will retire by June 30, 2014.

Trustee Karen Peetz, chair of the board’s Presidential Selection Council, announced the membership of the Search and Screen Committee comprised of nine faculty members; one staff member; two academic deans; one vice president; two undergraduate students and one graduate student; and one representative each from the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics and the Alumni Association.

“The search for a new president is one of the most significant instances of shared governance in the life of a university and we are committed to an inclusive process that involves an encompassing collection of individuals,” Peetz said. “While the Board of Trustees has the ultimate responsibility for selection of a president, the process is one of consultation and input from those who have a vested interest in Penn State’s next leader.

“This newly named Presidential Search and Screen Committee will bring a diverse and distinct array of opinions to the table to help determine which candidates have the best academic leadership and administrative skills to be Penn State’s 18th president.”

Members of the University Presidential Search and Screen Committee follow:

-- Ann (Nan) Crouter, committee chairwoman, dean, College of Health and Human Development;
-- Daniel Hagen, committee vice chairman, immediate past-chair, University Faculty Senate; professor of animal science, College of Agricultural Sciences
-- Jalon Alexander, president, Penn State Mont Alto Student Government Association; undergraduate student in Letters, Arts, and Sciences
-- Brian Aynardi, Graduate Student Association University Faculty Senate Representative; graduate student, plant pathology and environmental microbiology
-- Larry Backer, chair (2012-13), University Faculty Senate; professor of international affairs and law, Dickinson School of Law
-- Robert Edwards, Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of English and Comparative Literature, College of the Liberal Arts
-- Shaun Gabbidon, Distinguished Professor of criminal justice, Penn State Harrisburg
-- David Hall, dean, College of Information Sciences and Technology; chair, Academic Leadership Council
-- David Han, associate professor of surgery and radiology, Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center
-- Madlyn Hanes, vice president for Commonwealth Campuses
-- Thomas Mallouk, Evan Pugh Professor of materials chemistry and physics, Eberly College of Science
-- Katelyn Mullen, vice president, University Park Undergraduate Association; undergraduate student in supply chain and information systems.
-- Brian Orland, Distinguished Professor of landscape architecture, College of Arts and Architecture
-- Margaret Slattery, assistant professor of bioengineering; undergraduate program coordinator in bioengineering, College of Engineering
-- Kathleen Smarilli, president, Penn State Alumni Association; partner, Murphy McCormack Capital Advisors
-- Coquese Washington, head coach, Lady Lions Basketball
-- Timothy Whitehill, applications system analyst manager, University Budget Office
-- Brenton Yarnal, chair-elect (2013-14), University Faculty Senate; professor of geography, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences.

“Identifying a university president is one of the most challenging tasks we face as an institution, because the need to find someone with the skills and talent that will lead us into the future is critically important,” said Crouter, committee chairwoman. “This committee will listen to our campus community and engage in a deliberative process to find a candidate with the experience, personal characteristics and knowledge that match Penn State’s needs.”

The selection of the University president follows a multi-pronged approach. Overseeing the entire process is the Trustees Presidential Selection Council, chaired by Peetz and comprised of Trustees plus Peter Tombros, chairman of For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students. Among its duties, the council will set the timeframe for the search process and determine the leadership qualities and skills needed by Penn State’s next president.

As part of the presidential search, a Blue and White Vision Council also was established in November to identify key strategic challenges and opportunities facing the University over the next several years. This group is headed by Stanley Ikenberry, former president of the American Council on Education and past president of the University of Illinois, as well as senior fellow at Penn State.

The newly named University Presidential Search and Screen Committee has been charged with making the position known and actively seeking nominations, with the help of a yet-to-be-named executive search firm. In cooperation with the firm, the committee also is expected to create opportunities for the University community to have input into the process. The committee also will provide periodic updates to the Trustee council, and will hold several joint meetings with the council to discuss search progress.

In addition, the committee members screen, review and evaluate all applications and nominations to identify a pool of candidates who warrant further consideration by the Trustee council. The committee is expected to forward a short list of names to the Trustee Presidential Selection Council, which will analyze the pool and narrow it further. The final step in the search process is the appointment of the president, a decision usually made by the full board.

In order to attract the best candidates, the names of any presidential hopefuls will remain confidential, although the process will be transparent as these groups move through the steps to name Penn State’s next leader. The disclosure of candidates, even at the latter stages of the search, can result in the loss of some of the best potential leaders, according to Peetz.

“This is an exciting time for our University and this provides us with a tremendous opportunity to find a leader who understands the breadth and depth of Penn State, who has national and international experience, and who is innovative and in tune with the challenges we will face in the future as one of the nation’s top public research universities,” Peetz said. “We will find a person who will lead Penn State to even greater accomplishments.”

Contacts: 
Last Updated October 13, 2013