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On February 10, 2017, President Lash announced his retirement and the Hampshire College Board of Trustees directed that a presidential search committee be convened. Selecting the next president of Hampshire College is a critically important endeavor. This presidential search process will take many months of hard work and is anticipated to conclude in 2018, with the new president assuming office in summer of 2018. While time is a factor, ultimately the most important goal is to find the right individual to lead Hampshire College forward.
According to the College bylaws, the Board of Trustees of Hampshire College holds the ultimate responsibility for hiring the next president. The board values and requires the Hampshire community’s judgment and active community participation in the presidential search process with regard to providing input around institutional needs as well as evaluating and vetting of candidates. This desire and need for community participation is reflected in the composition of the search committee, which is the recruitment body charged with presenting to the board a recommendation for the best-qualified candidate for their consideration.
The role of the search committee is to conduct a discreet and successful national search; to identify, interview, and vet the most qualified candidates; engage the Hampshire community as appropriate, and recommend a candidate to the Board of Trustees for approval. The board will be the ultimate decision-making body in selecting the next president.
Gaye Hill, the chair of the Board of Trustees, asked for seven volunteers from among the trustees to serve on the presidential search committee, and, in addition, invited the staff, faculty, and student members of the Board of Trustees, who had previously been elected by their constituents to serve on the board, to join the committee. To identify additional staff, faculty, and student representatives to the search committee, self-nominations were solicited from the campus community. Chair Hill and the elected trustees to the search committee reviewed the nominations based on qualifications and references provided and then ultimately invited two staff, two faculty, and two students to join the presidential search committee.
This website serves as the central hub for information related to the presidential search process. Regular updates about this recruitment will be posted on the Hampshire College website. In addition, members of the search committee and those supporting the search administratively have been and will continue to provide ongoing updates to administrators, staff, faculty, students and alumni through various communication channels.
With input from the Hampshire College community (both on and off campus), the search committee has finalized a position profile outlining the qualifications and characteristics needed in our next president, which has been posted to the website below. This document shares in detail the various backgrounds, experience, and expertise we seek.
To ensure the deepest, broadest, and most diverse candidate pool for the search committee’s consideration, the majority of the search process must be confidential. The chairs of the search committee have engaged in discussion about how to balance the candidates’ needs for discretion with the desire to seek input from the greater Hampshire community.
In an increasingly competitive higher education landscape, the role of a college president requires an individual who has acquired significant leadership experience in a complex and nationally recognized organization. Ideally, that means that individuals exploring this opportunity will be gainfully employed, highly respected, and visible leaders within their current institutions and communities. Participating in a process that is not confidential may put some candidates' professional standing in their current institutions at risk. As a result, many such candidates will not participate in a process that does not preserve the confidentiality of their candidacy. Confidential searches are the standard for encouraging participation by the most desirable candidates.
In a confidential search, no information or materials about candidates can or will be shared broadly with the Hampshire community before finalists are selected. As described in the rationale provided above, this is designed to ensure the very best outcome and keep the strongest candidates with us in this process.
The search committee will identify a pool of semi-finalist candidates who will be interviewed in person by the presidential search committee. Following this first round, the search committee will select a short list of candidates who will be interviewed by an expanded group of individuals that includes members of the search committee and academic and administrative leaders. Each of these individuals will be required to sign a confidentiality agreement, as the search committee members have done. Note that this expanded group of interviewers are not decision makers, but they will provide additional information and feedback for the search committee to take into consideration as they continue to vet and evaluate these candidates. Following the short list interviews, the search committee will select finalists who will come to the local area. A small group of members of our Hampshire community will have the opportunity to meet the finalists, provide them with context about Hampshire and the position, and share their general impressions about the candidates with the search committee. The search committee will determine how to select community members to participate at this stage, with a focus on assuring candidate confidentiality. Following the finalists’ visits, the search committee will review the community feedback, along with background checks and on-list and off-list references, to make a final recommendation to the Board of Trustees.