The search for UM’s next president will begin with the hiring of a consultant, take as long as necessary and involve every member of the UM System Board of Curators, new board chairman Don Walsworth said Friday.
“There’s not a time frame,” said Walsworth, who was elected chairman of the curators Friday afternoon. “I think that’s asking too much. This person is going to be CEO of a $2 billion organization. It’s a big chore. It’s a big job.”
Two days after Elson Floyd surprised curators by accepting an offer to become president of Washington State University, the board agreed to hire a consulting firm to aid in the search for the system’s next president. Walsworth said the curators hope to create a short list of three consultant groups, from which they would pick the best candidate.
Walsworth said that, in the 45-minute closed session Friday during which they talked how to proceed with the search for Floyd’s replacement, curators did not specifically address what kind of person they wanted for the job. Walsworth said, however, that the choice would probably come down to an academic candidate, a business person with a background in academics or a person rooted in the business community.
Nor did the board discuss what it would be willing to pay the next president. But, Walsworth said, inflation and a glut of other major universities looking for presidents will almost certainly result in a compensation package that exceeds the $436,000 package Floyd commanded.
“You’re going to have to pay more. There’s no question about that,” he said. “The competition is really intense out there.”
Curator Cheryl D.S. Walker, who was elected vice-chairwoman of the board Friday, said the process to identify a consulting firm will be an important step in the search for UM’s next president.
“I think a lot of it is going to hinge on the track record and the ability of the search team,” she said.
The search will be nationwide, although, Walker said, the board did not discuss specific qualities it would like to see in the ideal candidate. The board will gather for a special closed meeting Jan. 11 to continue discussions about the presidential search.
“The next few weeks are going to be quite busy for us,” Walker said.