Presidential Search

News and Updates

To: The Reed College Campus Community
From: Anna Hayes Levin, Chair, Presidential Search Committee
Date: October 7, 2011

The Presidential Search Committee is making good progress toward defining the search process and has prepared a tentative timetable that is expected to result in the appointment of Reed’s next president by spring 2012. Our immediate task is to prepare the written position statement that will define Reed and identify the goals for the next president.

We are planning the following community forums to provide additional information about the search process and to ask for your suggestions for and comments on the position statement:

Staff Forum
Wednesday, October 26
11 a.m.–noon
Eliot Hall Chapel

Faculty Forum
Wednesday, October 26
4:30–5:30 p.m.
Psychology 105

Student Forum
Wednesday, October 26
7–8 p.m.
Eliot Hall Chapel

Faculty Forum
Thursday, October 27
Noon–1 p.m.
Psychology 105

One issue that requires careful consideration is confidentiality of individual candidates. All three executive search firms that we interviewed in August stressed that ensuring confidentiality through the end of the process and beyond has become the norm for presidential searches in recent years and will attract the broadest pool of candidates. There are several reasons for this. In today's world of instantaneous and universal access to information, an open process could quickly reveal at a home institution an applicant's status as a Reed presidential candidate. One can even imagine a YouTube video being posted of the candidate's visit to Reed. If key figures on other campuses are known to be applying for a presidency elsewhere, that knowledge can quickly jeopardize their institutions' fundraising and other goals, not to mention their personal careers. It is understandable that candidates are increasingly unwilling to take that risk. In addition, we seek to attract the deepest possible pool of applicants. A completely open process may particularly discourage women and candidates of color from applying out of concern that, should they become finalists, they are simply there to add token diversity to the pool.

The Presidential Search Committee is persuaded that we must design a process that respects the legitimate concerns of our candidates. Yet our college has a tradition of openness, and a real need to get to know the finalists and for them to know us. We believe that these competing interests can be successfully accommodated. One approach could be to invite representative groups of faculty, staff, and students to meet with each of our finalists on a confidential basis. This has worked successfully on other campuses quite similar to Reed, and our executive search firm of Isaacson, Miller believes that this compromise is viable. We will not settle on a process until we are closer to selecting our finalists, but we want to be transparent about this issue now, and about the compromise we are considering.

With many thanks for your participation in this challenging but exciting process,

Anna Hayes Levin