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UMW rethinking presidential search process

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Date published: 4/10/2010


The University of Mary Washington is rethinking the way it finds future leaders after two failed presidential searches.

UMW board of visitors member Patricia Revere said at a meeting yesterday that it's becoming a trend for colleges to hire presidents internally. At an Association of Governing Boards conference last month, she said, she learned that those leaders tend to have longer tenures.

"In recent years, the greatest success has been with an internal person, particularly one who has been groomed for the job," she told The Free Lance-Star.

Asked whether he thinks UMW will hire presidents internally in the future, incoming President Rick Hurley said: "That decision is out of my control, but I think the board will want to talk about it probably at our retreat this summer. I need to get their thinking on the issue."

Hurley, who has been with UMW for 10 years, will become the school's ninth president July 1.

UMW Rector Nanalou Sauder said some on the board of visitors have said the school "really needs to think about grooming somebody" to succeed Hurley.

After William Anderson retired as president in 2006, UMW conducted two national presidential searches.

The board of visitors hired Korn/Ferry International for $75,000 in 2005. That firm recruited William Frawley, who was fired after 10 months as president after being charged with driving under the influence twice in two days.

UMW then paid Greenwood/Asher and Associates Inc. $92,000--in addition to travel and other expenses--during its subsequent presidential search. That search, which didn't publicly reveal finalists for the job, resulted in the hiring of Judy Hample, who is leaving the school June 30 after just two years as its first female leader. Hample, who announced her resignation in February, is currently on a three-month sabbatical.

The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education also hired Greenwood for its chancellor search, which resulted in Hample's hiring.

During Hample's presidency, UMW has paid Greenwood about $243,000 for three administrative searches. They ended with the hiring of Vice President for Advancement and University Relations Torre Meringolo; Provost Jay Harper; and Richard Finkelstein, who will become dean of the college of arts and sciences July 1.

UMW also paid search firm Witt/Keiffer Ford Hadelman about $67,000 to help with its search for a vice president for student affairs. Doug Searcy filled that job in August 2009.

Sauder has said she hasn't heard from anybody who supported another national search for a president.

Asked why, she said: "I think the facts speak for themselves."

Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402
Email: jbranscome@freelancestar.com