W&L Begins Search for Next President

By: Gretchen Panchik, 2L
Contributing Writer

Washington & Lee’s presidential search is in full swing after the announcement of President Kenneth P. Ruscio’s resignation last May. President Ruscio will step down from his position in June of 2016 and take a one-year sabbatical before returning to the faculty.

Photo of Current W&L President Kenneth P. Ruscio

Current W&L President Kenneth P. Ruscio. | Source: law.wlu.edu

In the meantime, a fourteen-member committee composed of trustees, faculty, and administrators has been assembled to actively conduct an ongoing national search for the 27th president of Washington & Lee University. W&L plans to implement the search to continue its tradition of academic excellence. For that reason, it has sought out the services of Storbeck, Pimentel & Associates.

Storbeck, Pimentel & Associates is a retained executive search firm, specializing in higher education executive recruitment for universities and colleges. Their mission is to find “the best leaders uniquely suited to address the needs of our clients while providing the highest levels of service and collaboration.” The firm has conducted about 2,000 executive level searches for higher education and nonprofit clients in the past two decades.

W&L’s presidential search officially began in August with the release of an advertisement of the position’s vacancy. The advertisement draws potential candidates and provides talking points for the consultants and potential candidates. Since the advertisement was released, the search has been a process of continual information gathering.

The nature of the presidential search in the early stages is all about setting up advertisements and communications to publish a prospectus, which was recently finalized and is publicly available at Washington & Lee’s website. The story of Washington & Lee will be detailed in the document, giving candidates a snapshot of W&L. The prospectus will be about fifteen pages in length and provide information about the institution and provides the most desired characteristics in a candidate.

On August 11, the committee held its first presidential search forums. Since then, twelve total forums have been held. On September 3, a forum was held at the law school. Among those in attendance were James D. Farrar, Jr., Secretary of the University; Brant Hellwig, Dean of W&L Law; Shelly Weiss Storbeck, of Storbeck, Pimentel & Associates; Professor Johanna E. Bond, and Professor Angela Smith. At the forum, Dean Hellwig emphasized the unique nature of W&L being a small liberal arts school paired with a law school and the opportunity for a university president to embrace such a unique duo.

The search continues for the next President of W&L . . . | Source: www.elementalnw.com

The search continues for the next President of W&L . . . | Source: www.elementalnw.com

Students and friends of the University are encouraged to take the Presidential Search Survey on the W&L’s website to offer feedback regarding the search. As of September 18, 2015, approximately 1,654 surveys were reported as being completed.

The purpose of the ongoing surveys and forums is to answer three questions critical to the selection process: What are the advantages of W&L that will draw a candidate to the position as its president? What challenges will the new president face and how should the president plan to deal with these challenges? Finally, what characteristics should the institution be looking for in a candidate?

Nominations and applications for University President are being accepted until Thursday, October 15, 2015. Adhering to W&L’s motto, “not unmindful of the future,” the committee seeks to find a president that will embrace the core values of the University, while continuing to move forward.

During the next two and a half to three months, consultants from Storbeck, Pimentel & Associates will meet with qualified candidates in search of one with the characteristics laid out in the prospectus. For now, the search continues. The next president to serve the University and join the ranks of W&L’s esteemed list of presidents is out there somewhere.

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