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Front view of Jones Center building

Considerations for a Hybrid Search Approach

  1. Every leadership search in higher education requires delicately balancing candidate confidentiality with the institution’s right to a certain degree of transparency. This task is never easy.
  2. The goal of any search is to be fair with a process that provides confidence to the institutional community.
  3. Openness in these searches is important in keeping with the traditions of shared governance.
  4. As many of you know, shared governance is a foundation of higher education and ensures engagement and credibility with the broad range of campus constituents.
  5. Campus constituencies want a say in leadership selection. Students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members desire input in and ownership of the process.
  6. Openness legitimizes the process. Searches that are conducted with transparency are viewed as fair and impartial, legitimizing the selection and providing the new leader with a foundation for success.
  7. However, some candidates will not seek a position without confidentiality. Many strong candidates will not face the risk of compromising themselves in their current positions if they know their involvement will be made public at any point of the search process.
  8. There is no longer any news that remains local; home institutions are aware immediately when their leaders appear in the media anywhere in the world.
  9. Relationships can be jeopardized. Sitting presidents and other leaders in higher education have relationships with faculty, donors, and other individuals at their home institutions that can be damaged.
  10. Their current jobs can be at stake. When it becomes public that presidential candidates are considering another institution, it can create tension and even an untenable situation within their current institution.
  11. Unlike many faculty members, administrative leaders seldom enjoy the protections of tenure or other contractual arrangements that prevent their being released from their positions at will.
  12. A "hybrid" approach to search that balances confidentiality with openness is possible.
  13. Boards can be proactive in determining, with campus constituents, how the search process will be conducted and how to handle the issue of confidentiality while ensuring the integrity and credibility of the search.
  14. Students, faculty, staff, and community members can still have a voice. Constituents can be highly involved in establishing the expectations for the search through public forums, surveys, and other communications with the board, search committee, and search consultants.
  15. Arrangements can be made for a confidential interview process in which a select number of representatives of institutional constituencies can interact with and provide feedback on final candidates on behalf of their colleagues, in keeping with the traditions and protocols of shared governance.