State System Begins Search for Next Chancellor

HARRISBURG, Pa. – The search for the next chancellor of Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education has begun.

Board of Governors Chairwoman Cynthia D. Shapira (pictured above) is chairing the committee conducting the search, while board Vice Chair Harold C. Shields is serving as co-chair.

The board has engaged Wheless Partners, one of the nation’s leading executive search consultant and human capital advisor firms, to assist with the search process and candidate recruitment. The firm has led successful executive searches around the country, including presidential and chancellor searches for public and private universities and systems nationally.

“We were impressed with Wheless’ track record for going beyond traditional methods of recruiting to develop a broad pool of candidates,” Shapira said.

Wheless Partners has experience with a range of clients, in higher education as well as global Fortune 500 companies, private equity firms, government organizations, public and private institutions and entrepreneurial startups.

“The next chancellor will lead in shaping the renaissance of this system,” Shapira said. “This is an exciting time for the State System. We’ve completed our strategic review, identified our top priorities, and have begun a system redesign to ensure a brighter future for our 14 universities and the more than 100,000 students we serve.”

The Board of Governors in July completed a top-to-bottom strategic review of the State System, and in October adopted three priorities to guide the redesign effort: 1) ensuring student success; 2) leveraging the strengths of each university; and 3) transforming the governance and leadership structure.

“It took real forethought and courage to do the system review, and it will take equal amounts of innovation and determination from our next chancellor to accomplish the system redesign process,” Shapira said.

The chancellor search committee, which met for the first time Nov. 6, plans to complete its work by next summer.

“As both a board member and a university trustee, I have the local and the statewide perspective on the role our chancellor plays in the success of the 14 universities, our whole system, and, most importantly, the students,” said Shields, who also serves on the Council of Trustees at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and chairs the Pennsylvania Association of Councils of Trustees. “I’m confident our nationwide search will find the right person for the important task ahead.”

Other board members serving on the search committee are Vice Chair David M. Maser, who also is chair of the Finance, Administration, and Facilities Committee, and Thomas S. Muller, chair of the Audit Committee.

Shapira appointed three additional members to serve on the search committee: Ryan Long, president of the Student Government Association at West Chester University of Pennsylvania; Dr. Laura Delbrugge, a faculty member and chair of the foreign languages department at Indiana University of Pennsylvania; and Dr. Donna Wilson, provost and senior vice president of academic affairs at Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania.

Under Board of Governors policy, the chancellor search committee comprises the board’s executive committee – board officers and the standing committee chairs – and up to three other individuals appointed by the board chair.

“It is vitally important to me that our search process includes the voices of those at our university campuses,” Shapira said. “We can’t do this without the students, faculty and staff; having them at the table will make a measurable difference.”

Wheless Partners will work with the committee throughout the search process. Among its tasks will be to gather stakeholder input, help craft the recruitment materials and actively identify and recruit potential candidates for the position. The search committee will screen candidates and conduct the initial round of interviews. The full board will participate in the final round of interviews and vote on the selection.

Former State System Chancellor Frank T. Brogan retired in September, after serving in the position for nearly four years. The Board of Governors selected Dr. Karen M. Whitney, former president of Clarion University of Pennsylvania, to serve as interim chancellor pending the conclusion of the search for the next chancellor.

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