The University of Toledo Board of Trustees Tuesday selected a Chicago-area search firm to help it with the arduous task of narrowing the list of applicants who will apply to become the next university president.
The board agreed to hire Witt/Kieffer of Oak Brook, Ill., to conduct a national search to replace Dr. Lloyd Jacobs.
Dr. Jacobs, 72, who has led UT as president since 2006, announced in March that he will step down effective June 30, 2015, a year before his contract ends. Dr. Jacobs, a surgeon, was president of the former Medical College of Ohio and was retained as UT president after it merged with the medical school in 2006. His salary is $392,700.
Dr. Jacobs was not present for the trustees' meeting.
The board considered three firms. Witt/Kieffer was the most expensive of the three. It asked for $125,000, plus $24,900 in fees.
AGB Search, the search affiliate of the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, quoted UT a $70,000 fee, plus $30,500 to cover expenses. Academic Search Inc., also asked for $70,000, plus $24,500 to cover expenses.
Joseph H. Zerbey IV, board of trustees chairman, said the search process would be transparent.
“Once a person declares himself as a bona fide candidate, that becomes public information,” said Mr. Zerbey, who is also The Blade’s president and general manager.
Representatives from each firm promised extensive, tailored searches with a rating of all candidates. Each acknowledged that UT’s medical school is an important part of the university, which should be considered in the search.
Dennis Barden, senior partner of Witt/Kieffer, said the firm's leaders know there is “some friction” between the administration and the faculty senate, which will be known to candidates.
He said the credibility of the search, particularly with the university faculty, is critical.
He added, “You want people with fire in the belly for the job you actually need done. ... We call people who think they are happily employed and convince them how much more they'd be happily employed here.”
Mr. Barden said the firm recently conducted a successful presidential search for Marquette University.
“They got someone from the outside who brought a completely different frame of reference,” he said.
Mr. Barden laid out a plan that would conclude near the end of 2014 with a new president. That would allow for a four to five-month transition process, which would include “celebrating Dr. Jacobs,” he said.
He recommend the university start to look for candidates for other vacant top positions before a new president begins. The actual hiring of those people should occur under the new president, he said. That would be an enticement for a potential president.
Dr. Jeffery Gold, former UT chancellor and executive vice president of biosciences and health affairs, resigned earlier this year to lead the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
Carson Dye, also with Witt/Kieffer who lives in Toledo, said the firm focuses on public service areas, not exclusively higher education.
Mr. Barden said the search process would start with a series of local meetings to gauge the school's and community's needs.
Karen Hoblet, chairman of the UT faculty senate, said she would like the search firm and the trustees to select applicants with a willingness to cooperate and align the administration, faculty, and staff.
Ms. Hoblet also said the new president should “collaborate and have the ability to form partnerships, internally and externally, and bring forward more transparency.”