Board of Trust Chairman Bruce R. Evans laid out an anticipated timeline for the search for Vanderbilt’s ninth chancellor at a town hall-style gathering on June 5 designed to share information about the priorities and process that will drive the search for the university’s next leader.
In addition, Evans announced that global executive search and leadership consulting firm Spencer Stuart will support the search. Spencer Stuart has worked with the boards and faculties at top-ranked universities and colleges—including Stanford, Yale, Cornell, Williams and Brown—to identify and successfully recruit those institutions’ current presidents.
A capacity crowd filled Featheringill Hall’s Jacobs Believed in Me Auditorium for the event, and dozens more watched a live stream on the Chancellor Search website. (Watch a video archive of the town hall ).
Evans outlined the charges of the recently appointed Chancellor Search Committee, which he chairs, and the Chancellor Search Advisory Committee, chaired by College of Arts and Science Dean John Geer. In a departure from past searches, five members of the Advisory Committee also will serve on the Search Committee and will participate in candidate interviews.
“I think what we’ve managed to do is put together a set of committees that are quite diverse and represent the wider Vanderbilt community in such a way that we’ll be able to understand what qualities and attributes the community truly values in our next chancellor,” Evans said.
The Advisory Committee, which comprises students, faculty, staff and alumni, will gather, synthesize and provide advice to the Search Committee on the priorities the next chancellor should address, as well as discern the qualities that individual should possess.
The Search Committee, comprising current and emerita Board of Trust members, faculty and staff, will lead efforts to search for and select an outstanding candidate for recommendation to the full board.
The Advisory Committee’s work is already underway and will continue through mid-September, at which time the committee will issue a public report of its findings. Members of the Vanderbilt community are encouraged to share feedback through an online survey found on the Chancellor Search website, as well as participate in a series of forums and listening sessions planned throughout the summer and into the start of the coming academic year.
“The main task of the Advisory Committee—and I can’t overstate the importance of this—is to engage every member of our community, whether it be alumni, students, faculty or staff,” Geer said. “To secure their thoughts not just about the qualities of the next chancellor, but also to define: What are our challenges, what are our opportunities, and what do we need to do going forward to become a greater university?”
Guided by the Advisory Committee’s final report, the Search Committee will work with Spencer Stuart to conduct a highly comprehensive and confidential search to find the very best candidate to serve as Vanderbilt’s new chancellor, with a goal of making a recommendation to the full Board of Trust in winter 2020.
Vanderbilt is extremely well-positioned to attract leaders of the highest caliber and is undertaking its search at a significant time in the history of higher education, said consultant Jennifer Bol, who is leading the Vanderbilt search for Spencer Stuart.
“We think you are very well-positioned for two reasons,” Bol said. “One is the incredible trajectory the university’s been on for the past decade, the strength of the university on so many levels—it’s going to enable you to compete for the best talent that’s out there.
“The other benefit of doing the search now is there is going to be a major generational shift in research university leadership in the early 2020s,” she said. “Vanderbilt will have the first look at the emerging talent that’s coming up that’s prepared to run these kinds of institutions.”