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Presidential Search Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions


What progress has been made on the search thus far?

We currently are in the information gathering and candidate recruitment stage of the process. The Presidential Search Advisory Committee has conducted 22 listening sessions throughout the state, including in Vancouver, Tri‑Cities, Pullman, Spokane, Seattle, Everett, and Bellevue, and online through the Global Campus. The sessions helped the committee gather input about the qualifications for the next president and the future direction of WSU from a wide variety of stakeholders. The feedback is helping the Committee to develop the position profile. The University community is invited to continue providing input to inform this process.

Recruitment of candidates is principally the work of the search firm, which is pursuing individuals who will either submit applications in response to the announcement of the vacancy at WSU, be nominated through the nomination process, or are known to the firm as good potential candidates for the WSU presidency. The goal of this stage of the search is to recruit a significant pool of well-qualified candidates for the Committee to evaluate and consider for recommendation to the Board of Regents.

In September, the Regents approved guidelines for the search, the Presidential Search Advisory Committee was appointed, and an executive search firm was retained.


Which search firm has been retained and what is the firm’s role?

 WSU has retained the executive search firm Isaacson, Miller, led by Vice President Julie Filizetti and Senior Associate Cati Mitchell, who work in the firm’s San Francisco office.

The search firm assists the Presidential Search Advisory Committee by helping to guide the Committee in determining its structure and processes; by advising the Committee in connection with creation of the presidential job description; and by engaging in outreach to attract a large pool of qualified candidates to be considered by the Committee for recommendation to the Board of Regents.


How were the members of the Presidential Search Advisory Committee chosen? Who serves on the Presidential Search Advisory Committee?

On July 7, 2015, the Board of Regents delegated authority to the Chair of the Board to appoint a Regents’ Ad Hoc Committee to advise the Regents in matters relating to the search for WSU’s next president. Chair Ryan Durkan appointed Regents Laura Jennings, Lura Powell, and Michael Worthy to the Ad Hoc Committee. During the summer, the Committee sought input from several key University stakeholder groups, asking for recommendations of names of individuals for the Regents’ consideration, with the objective of creating a committee that was both representative of the entire University community and manageable in size.

The composition and characteristics the Board sought to include in the committee included:

  • Representation from a wide variety of constituent groups, including faculty; staff (both administrative/professional and classified/bargaining unit staff); students (graduate and undergraduate); volunteers (WSU Foundation and Alumni Association); administrators; and other community representatives
  • Statewide representation, including representation from all campuses
  • Strong academic mix that reflects the stature of and excellence of the University and perspectives and expertise from a wide variety of backgrounds
  • Diversity, including gender and ethnic diversity

The Regents appointed a 25-member Search Advisory Committee. It consists of nine individuals with WSU faculty appointments, including the current Chair of the Faculty Senate and three who also hold appointments as deans; three staff, both classified and administrative professional; three volunteers from the WSU Foundation and Alumni Association; three Regents, one who serves as chair of the Committee; three students, two undergraduate and one graduate; two community members; one chancellor; and one WSU vice president. Also, the Chair of the Board of Regents serves as an ex officio member.


What is your timeline? When will a new president be announced?

Our goal is to have a new president identified by the end of spring semester 2016.


Who is responsible for choosing the next president?

Pursuant to state law and Board of Regents Bylaws, the Regents hold the ultimate responsibility for hiring the next president. The Regents recognize and value the critical importance of key stakeholder participation in the presidential search process, including providing input regarding institutional needs but also in the actual evaluation and vetting of candidates. This critical role is recognized and incorporated into the current composition of the search advisory committee, which is charged with presenting the Regents with a recommended slate of the best-qualified candidates for their consideration.


Will the short list of candidates be made public? Will you bring a candidate to campus?

The Regents Ad Hoc Committee carefully researched matters related to the search, including consideration of the relative strengths and limitations of an “open” versus a “closed” search and recommended the Presidential Search Guidelines adopted by the Board of Regents on September 10, 2015.

The Regents have determined that the best course of action for Washington State University is to keep the names of all candidates as confidential information of the Search Advisory Committee and the Regents. The Regents do not intend to conduct on-campus interviews.

Confidentiality is critical to attract and maintain a strong pool of candidates. Many prospective candidates will not participate in a search unless they are assured of confidentiality because they do not want to jeopardize their effectiveness in their current positions. If an individual is perceived as likely to leave his or her current organization, the ability to effectively lead that organization may be seriously diminished. The more highly placed the individual, the more likely it is that he or she will suffer negative consequences from disclosure of his or her identity, and hence the less willing the individual is to become a candidate in searches where disclosure of names is likely.

However, at the same time, the Regents are committed to an inclusive process and, as a public entity, WSU is governed by laws pertaining to the conduct of public business. These laws regulate the disclosure of public records and the conduct of public meetings of the Board of Regents. The Regents are well aware of their responsibilities under the law and are guided in this process by the Office of the Attorney General. All aspects of this search will be conducted in accordance with all legal requirements.

It is important to understand that these laws recognize the need for confidentiality in the recruitment and evaluation of candidates for public positions such as the presidency of a university. Consequently, they are designed to permit the protection of the identities of those candidates being considered during the evaluation phase of the search. Simultaneously, these laws ultimately protect the public’s right to know about the final decisions pertaining to the appointment of a public official. In this context, that means the decision to hire the next president of WSU is a public decision and will take place in an open public meeting of the Board of Regents.