In the early summer of 2016, the Board of Trustees announced the start of a presidential search process to select Wright State University's 7th president. By mid-summer, the Search and Screening Advisory Committee (S-SAC) was established and a search firm had been selected to increase our candidate pool and provide confidentiality during the national search.
The Office of Marketing and the Office of Communications both had staff selected to support the S-SAC. An S-SAC subcommittee focused on marketing was organized and worked closely with our teams. Our objectives were to create public-facing materials to attract potential candidates and to communicate as transparently as possible to the entire university community throughout the search process. This resulted in three significant products; a website, a search profile document, and a video.
The presidential search website was the primary method of communication to a broad range of audiences, both external and internal to the university. It was decided early on that the primary audience focus would transition throughout the phases of the project based on the current activities of the committee. During the preparation phase (Phase 1) of the search, an initial website was launched that focused on communicating the processes and timeline to largely internal audiences. During the learning phase (Phase 2), the site advertised a series of internal and public events that were hosted to help gather requirements and attributes for the search profile. During the search phase (Phase 3), the site transitioned focus toward prospective candidates as we worked closely with our search firm to advertise the position nationwide. Finally, during the selection and onboarding phase (Phase 4) of the search, the site shifted back to focusing on communications with internal and external audiences. As part of the process of ensuring transparency, all communications that were sent through emails to internal audiences were archived in the news sections of the site. We plan to leave the site live as an archive of the process for some time to come.
The written profile is an integral component of a presidential search process. This document introduces the university to prospective candidates and highlights the opportunities here that might entice them to apply. The marketing subgroup started their work on the presidential search profile immediately. We developed an outline and then gathered previously existing materials that could be adapted to make up the majority of the search profile while the full S-SAC committee worked on finalizing the content for the Leadership Agenda and Qualifications, Experience, and Leadership Attributes sections. Once we had everything written, edited, and approved, the copy was laid out with photos and graphics to make it cohesive and visually appealing.
At the first meeting of the S-SAC marketing subcommittee, we suggested doing something unique beyond the search profile and website most universities develop. With Wright State's recent challenges we wanted to make sure we clearly conveyed the incredible opportunity Wright State offered to potential candidates. We shot several interviews using a range of both long-standing and newer employees to discuss the potential they see in Wright State. The video was edited together with existing b-roll and placed on the presidential search website.
To provide the largest possible and most diverse pool, we worked closely with our search firm we to advertise in the following publications.
- Chronicle of Higher Education
- Hispanic Outlook
- Journal of Blacks in Higher Education
- Women in Higher Education
- American Conference of Academic Deans
- Diverse Jobs
- Inside Higher Education
- Higher Ed Jobs
- Council of Colleges of Arts and Sciences
- Higher Education Resource Services (HERS)
A total of 61 applications were received by the December 5th deadline. The S-SAC was pleased with the size of the candidate pool, the quality of candidates, and the diversity of those who applied. The candidate pool included current sitting presidents, chancellors, deans, chief academic officers, university vice presidents, professors, and business leaders. Most candidates were external, but we also received several applications from within our university. In addition, most applicants possessed doctoral degrees, but we also attracted candidates with medical degrees, law degrees, master's degrees, and some with multiple advanced degrees. At least one candidate was a Rhodes Scholar, several international candidates had applied, as had several with experience in research universities, and the diversity of our pool according to gender, nationality, race, experience, and background was impressive. It was an excellent pool and highly competitive.
Of these candidates, three were invited to campus for a series of open forums with stakeholder groups. On March 6th, Wright State University named Cheryl B Schrader as our president-designate.