Presidential search firm named to help find Penn State's next leader

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – In the quest for its 18th president, Penn State officials have selected a well-known executive search firm to assist in attracting the most qualified candidates.

Isaacson, Miller, with offices in Boston, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco, was selected from a pool of five potential professional firms that could assist the University in finding exceptional and experienced candidates to fill the leadership role of one of the nation's largest and most complex research universities. Penn State's current President Rodney Erickson will retire on or before June 30, 2014.

"We have engaged Isaacson, Miller because the expertise and experience they possess reflects the type of search we wish to conduct. Their track record in finding exceptional candidates that truly fit an institution's needs and future demands is outstanding," said Karen Peetz, chair of the 13-member Trustee Presidential Selection Council

"We have asked Isaacson, Miller to make this presidential search as broad as possible, and to identify both traditional and nontraditional leaders of the highest caliber who could lead our University," Peetz said.

One of the first orders of business for the firm, according to Peetz, will be to reach out to the University community to gain valuable input from its various stakeholders, through public meetings, surveys and focus groups to determine the qualifications and characteristics needed in Penn State's next president. The open dialogue also will help the firm identify Penn State's strengths, opportunities and challenges as it searches for a leadership match.

"Penn State is a resolute, broadly diversified research university with a strong commitment to its undergraduate students. We are excited to help it chart its course for the future," said John Isaacson, president of Isaacson, Miller. "Our search approach is disciplined and collaborative. We are on board to help recruit world-class leadership talent for Penn State at this critical time in higher education and we believe that there is real opportunity for Penn State to set a powerful and successful direction for the coming years." Co-leading and partnering with Isaacson on the Penn State search will be Michael Baer, vice president and director at the firm. Isaacson and Baer will be supported in the effort by a team of professional associates based in Washington, D.C.

With considerable experience recruiting presidents and other senior officers, Isaacson, Miller has conducted searches for the presidents of Dartmouth College, Brown University, the University of Pennsylvania, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Yale – National University of Singapore and Reed College, as well as the chancellors of the State University of New York system, Vanderbilt University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of California, San Diego. In addition, Isaacson, Miller has placed the secretary of the Smithsonian; the president of the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C.; and the senior vice president for health at the University of Southern California Los Angeles.

Founded in 1982 Isaacson, Miller undertakes nationwide searches for a wide variety of mission-driven organizations beyond higher education, including foundations, arts and cultural institutions, economic development organizations, environmental defense groups, human service agencies, community-based organizations and national advocacy groups.

In addition to the 13-member Trustee Presidential Selection Council, also partnering in the search for a new leader for Penn State is the University Presidential Search and Screen Committee, a cross-section of 18 individuals from within the University community. The group is chaired by Ann (Nan) Crouter, dean, College of Health and Human Development.

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Last Updated October 13, 2013