Forums generate strong feedback as presidential search moves into next phase

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The final two presidential search forums, held April 3 at Penn State’s Berks and Beaver campuses, rounded out a series of five events that sought input and guidance from members of the University community in the search for Penn State’s next president. Three forums previously were held at University Park.

Michael Baer, vice president and director at executive search firm Isaacson, Miller, said feedback from the forums has been extremely helpful to the firm as they prepare to recruit a pool of candidates in the next phase of the search.

“The feedback from these sessions was excellent. The members of the University Community who attended the sessions clearly feel strongly and positively about Penn State and wanted to convey their thoughts and feelings about the qualities the University’s next president should possess,” Baer said. “The sessions touched on a wide range of topics, and that’s a good thing — there are many issues that constituents want to have addressed. All participants want a candidate who is a good listener; someone who is passionate about the institution; and someone who can convey that passion across Pennsylvania and beyond.”

Paul Esqueda, senior associate dean of Academic Affairs and professor of engineering at Penn State Berks, was in attendance at the April 3 session. He said the format of the event, led by Nan Crouter, University Presidential Search and Screen Committee chairwoman and dean of the College of Health and Human Development; and Dan Hagen, committee vice chair and professor of animal science, lent itself to open and free-flowing discussion.

He said the 90-minute forum provided a capacity crowd with an opportunity to address search committee members and share thoughts about the challenges and opportunities facing the University’s next president, and priorities and goals for his or her first years in office.

“The forum was very good, in my opinion. It was a very honest and frank discussion,” Esqueda said. “A particular focus, from a campus perspective, was on the geographically dispersed nature of the University, and how the president should help to promote a sense of integration across the University as a whole.”

Feedback from all five sessions, Baer said, will be combined with feedback from groups and individuals from across the community, including the University’s Blue and White Vision Council, as the firm works to create a position profile. The profile will be designed to provide context and history, and to convey to candidates the nature, breadth and depth of the University.

Current President Rodney Erickson has announced that he will retire no later than June 30, 2014.

Updates on the search for Penn State's next president will be posted at, where the public can offer input, learn about those tasked with finding the University’s next leader and view the history of the Penn State presidency.

Faculty, staff, students and alumni also are encouraged to share their insight and make confidential nominations by emailing Other comments on the process can be emailed to Links to both of these addresses can be found on the new site.

Additional news about the presidential search process is available at

Last Updated October 13, 2013