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Northwestern posts presidential position profile

With broad input from the University community, the Presidential Search Committee moves to the next phase

Guided by input from hundreds of stakeholders across the University, Northwestern today posted the position profile for its next president – yet another important step toward identifying its next leader. 

Developed by the Presidential Search Committee over the past several months, the position profile encapsulates themes the committee heard from across the community through written submissions, listening sessions and forums open to the entire campus community.

More than 350 community members attended the listening sessions and forums, each of which was hosted by the chair along with several members of the Presidential Search Committee. Hundreds more stakeholders have provided input to this process in the form of written submissions and nominations. The position profile identifies opportunities and challenges for Northwestern, as well as desired qualifications and traits for the University’s next president.

In addition to helping shape the description itself, these community inputs also have provided key context for the committee for future stages of the search, including the interview process and presidential transition. 

“The search committee is grateful to the entire Northwestern community for deeply and thoughtfully engaging in the search for our 17th president,” said Peter Barris, vice chair of the Board of Trustees and chair of the search committee. “The community’s commitment to providing perspectives has been invaluable to our process and demonstrates our collective passion for the continued success of our great University.” 

With the position profile finalized, the search committee’s work turns to considering the roughly 230 nominations received to date from the Northwestern community and beyond.

“We are in an ever-changing global landscape, and that evolution extends to higher education,” said Alicia Boler Davis, who serves on the Board of Trustees and as vice chair of the Presidential Search Committee. “Our committee is conscious of this as we identify the next president who is prepared to advance Northwestern’s impact and global reach.”

One theme that was consistent throughout channels of input from the community was the importance of continuing Northwestern’s commitments to diversity, equity and inclusion — now and in the future. 

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The community’s commitment to providing perspectives has been invaluable to our process and demonstrates our collective passion for the continued success of our great University. ”

Peter Barris
Vice chair of the Board of Trustees and chair of the search committee

The committee will build a diverse slate from national and international nominations, Barris said.

The committee has embraced the recently implemented Diverse Candidate Slates Policy and is deeply committed to the tenets of this policy throughout the process, Barris said. The committee has been educated on the University’s policy, has done associated training and has also participated in discussions of implicit bias.

“We value the commitments made by the University to diversity, equity and inclusion, and we understand their vital importance to the entire community,” said Ginni Rometty, who serves as a vice chair of Northwestern’s Board of Trustees and as vice chair to the search committee. “These commitments will be reflected throughout the search for our next president.” 

Northwestern is assisted in this process by executive search firm Isaacson, Miller. The committee will interview prospects for the position, narrowing the pool until a final candidate is advanced to the Board of Trustees for election.

Related: Read the complete presidential position profile

As is standard practice for private universities, Northwestern is committed to complete confidentiality throughout this search process to protect the identities of potential candidates and ensure the best result for Northwestern’s next president, Barris said. There is no strict timeline for completion of the search.

“Our committee’s work will be complete when we select the best candidate to lead Northwestern into the future,” Barris said.

The committee encourages members of the Northwestern community to continue providing input and submitting nominations as the search process continues.