Expectations high for next president

By Becca Clemons

The Presidential Search Committee, with the Board of Trustees, completed a position announcement for the search for the 12th president of the University of Kentucky.

The announcement lists leadership, scholarly achievement and communication skills among the qualifications for an ideal presidential candidate.

“As the position announcement makes clear, we have extremely high expectations for our next president,” committee chair Jim Stuckert said. He said a goal is to attract a leader who will continue to work toward UK becoming a Top 20 public research institution.

Excellence in research and education are stressed in the announcement, and it mentions that UK is Kentucky’s principal doctoral degree-granting institution, a fact that Stuckert rates highly.

“We are a flagship institution and a land-grant university,” he said. “That means the best in education, research and service to our Commonwealth. [The next leader] should have a record of scholarly achievement and an understanding of how a top-flight academic institution functions and, in particular, the importance of a high-quality faculty in ensuring success.”

Stuckert said advertisements containing the announcement will run in upcoming issues of the Chronicle of Higher Education and other higher education publications, after which the formal nomination process will begin.

He said the search is on schedule with the timeline adopted by the trustees, and it will be several weeks until the number of initial candidates is known. Executive search firm Greenwood/Asher & Associates, Inc. is assisting UK with the search.

“This position announcement is an important milestone in the selection process,” Trustee Chairman Britt Brockman said. “We are now in the process of formally soliciting nominations for the presidency. As importantly, we are making a statement to the higher education community and more broadly about the kind of university we are today and what we plan to be in the future – a Top 20 public research institution that makes a profound difference in our state and our world.”

Candidates for the presidential position may elect to remain confidential throughout the search process, which is a factor the committee and the trustees are still discussing.

“It’s an important balance that we are trying to achieve—maintaining some level of confidentiality so that we can attract the best possible candidates while keeping our state and our campus as informed as possible,” Stuckert said. “We are still discussing as a board how best to achieve that balance.”

The position announcement mentions providing “innovative leadership” and “superior leadership and management skills for operating a highly complex institution of higher learning,” emphasizing growth and the Top 20 plan.

Dean of Libraries Terry Birdwhistell agrees that growth is crucial and that each president must build on the accomplishments of the last.

“I think the president of a research university in the 21st century has to be somebody who has a vision for what these places are becoming … and can see it through,” he said.

“President [Lee] Todd has set the bar extremely high, given the incredible progress UK has made in the past 10 years, a tenure also often marked by significant financial challenges,” Brockman said. “We have very high expectations for our next president, and we are committed to finding the right person to continue our progress and momentum toward the aspirations we have set for UK and the state.”

More information about the presidential search can be found on its website, (www.uky.edu/presidentialsearch).