Search begins for a new state university system chancellor
The group that oversees Florida’s 11 public universities voted unanimously Thursday to hire a Dallas search firm to aid in hiring a new chancellor for the state university system.
The 14-member committee, which includes nine representatives from the Board of Governors, a Florida businessman and two university boards of trustees chairs, selected the firm of R. William Funk & Associates to find a replacement for Chancellor Mark Rosenberg, who announced his resignation in September.
Dubbed the “guru of higher education recruiting” by the Chronicle of Higher Education, Funk has conducted approximately 300 searches for college and university presidents and chancellors. Among the 70 sitting presidents the company has recruited are Mark Yudof at the University of California System, John Lombardi at Louisiana State University, and Donna Shalala at the University of Miami.
The firm agreed to undertake the search for $75,000 plus expenses, $23,000 less than the next lowest bidder. But Board of Governors member and search committee chair Carolyn Roberts said that while the group should be concerned about how much the search will cost, its primary concern must be finding the right person for the job.
“This is a critical search,” Roberts said. “We need someone with the skills to navigate through some difficult times.”
All three firms interviewed by the committee on Thursday acknowledged that several factors could make the search for a new chancellor difficult. One possible drawback is Florida’s statutory requirement that the search be conducted “in the sunshine,” a condition that could deter some qualified candidates from coming forward.
Other possible drawbacks could be the perception that Florida’s higher education governance system is still relatively new and that it frequently operates in a politically charged environment.
All the more reason, William Funk told the search committee, for hiring a firm capable of bringing forth top-notch candidates who could come from the ranks of business or politics as easily as from the world of academics.
“The best candidate at the end of the day will have a passion for students and for changing people’s lives,” Funk said. “He or she will have a fire in the belly for educating students.”
Roberts, the committee chair, said the next step in the process will be drafting a job description and setting up a time line for the search, which is expected to be completed by July 1.
Donna Winchester, higher education reporter