Ballmer, search firm discuss presidential search at forum

More than 250 potential candidates have been contacted so far in the initial phase of the UO’s search for a new president, a member of the search firm and the chair of the search committee said Wednesday.

Representatives from Parker Executive Search joined Connie Ballmer, university trustee and chair of the presidential search committee, on campus Wednesday to provide an update on the UO’s presidential search. At the first of two campus-wide open sessions, Ballmer outlined the progress so far.

After hearing feedback from campus and community constituents last fall, she said, the search committee worked with the search advisory group to draft the official position description. The position has been marketed through national publications and has guided preliminary inquiries from the growing list of recommended or nominated potential candidates.

“We are entering into the ‘quiet phase’ of the recruitment period,” Ballmer said. “The next step is to continue the outreach to potential candidates and begin the confidential process of winnowing the pool to a strong set of semi-finalists for the search committee to interview.”

Parker representative and firm president Laurie Wilder provided an overview of the firm’s role in the search and the committee’s strategic decision to maintain confidentiality in the process.

“Our role is not to select the next president; rather, our role is to aggressively recruit and facilitate the process throughout to bring a strong pool of diverse and qualified applicants,” Wilder said.

On the issue of confidentiality, Wilder indicated that one of the very first questions asked by potential candidates is about the level of privacy.  Ballmer and Wilder explained that those individuals who would be qualified, attractive and interested candidates very likely have a high-profile leadership role at another institution.  Those individuals, they noted, will not enter a candidate pool if their interest and engagement will be exposed.

While the market for university presidents is very competitive, the sentiment from the members of the search committee and advisory group, as well as Parker, is that the UO stands to take advantage of this unique time in its history and recruit a leader who will help shape its future.

“We are hearing outstanding things from candidates who see the UO as being on an upward trajectory.  Today’s great leaders don’t want maintenance, they want to be a part of something that is growing and getting better,” Wilder said.

The open forum ended with a strong call for people to recommend potential candidates. Wilder noted every person who is recommended is contacted.

“You have a tremendous role and opportunity to influence the outcome of this search,” Wilder said. “A good number of individuals have come from internal recommendations already.”

To learn more, visit the presidential search website, and to nominate an individual candidate, contact the search committee via email.

—By Jen McCulley, Public Affairs Communications