Jamie Ferrare, Senior Vice President of the Association of Governening Boards and Principal of AGB Search, appeared in front of Saint Louis University’s Student Government Assocation Wednesday night to gather student opinion on what sort of president will most benefit the university in th ecoming years. AGB Search is the search firm that SLU’s Board of Trustee’s contracted to help the Presidential Search Committee (PSC) in selecting the next university head. The PSC, comprised of faculty, administrators and students, has been tasked with finding the most qualified president for SLU.
Ferrare began his time by explaining the three phases of the presidential search process.
He stated that the university is currently in the pre-search phase, during which AGB will gather the opinions of various SLU groups concerning what the University wants in its next president. To that end, two open fora will be held on Oct. 14, with one meeting held in the morning and another in the afternoon. The locations of the meetings have yet to be announced.
Once they have finished gathering data, AGB will put together a position description for their recruitment efforts. They will then begin to recruit presidential candidates across the country. Ferrare stated that they expect 40 or 50 candidates during the recruitment phase, which the Presidential Search Committee will narrow to 10 to 12 potential candidates. The Committee will hold extensive interviews with each of those candidates.
“The candidate will also have an opportunity to interview the committee,” Ferrare said. “They’re going to want to know this is the right job for them.” Ferrare expects that portion of the interview process to happen in mid-January with the goal of having two or three candidates to announce publicly to the campus by early spring.
After his presentation, Ferrare opened the floor to the Senate Chambers, allowing those in attendance to ask questions and asking them what values they thought would be important when choosing a new president. In response to a senator’s question about whether preference would be given to Jesuits, Ferrare said that the general opinion he had heard thus far was a preference for the best leader possible, though special thought would have to be given to the Jesuit mission of SLU.
“I think everyone agrees that the identity of this Jesuit mission here is critical, and whoever is president has to buy into that, support it and grow it,” he said.
Many senators expressed a desire for an open and communicative president. There were also multiple calls for careful attention to developing a diverse pool of candidates, both in terms of the campuses the search pulls from and the candidates themselves.
“I would hope that you all would look for a candidate that comes from a diverse university, and by diverse I don’t just mean racially but socioeconomically and a lot of different majors,” Black Student Alliance Senator Gold Gladney said.
Ferrare said that the Board had tasked him to develop the most diverse candidate pool possible. Ferrare called attention to the fact that student involvement in a presidential search is not always part of the process. In terms of how to appeal to potential presidents, he said consistent involvement was key.
“Stay tuned, stay involved,” Ferrare said. “Keep your president informed as to what you think is important.”