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Presidential Search

University System of Maryland

Guidelines for the Selection of Presidents

(Approved by the Board of Regents, January 24, 1991; Revised July 13, 2001;

Revised October 22, 2004)


The purpose of these guidelines is to establish a general procedural framework for the search and selection of presidents of the institutions of the University System of Maryland. The Regents deem it important that there be general consistency in the presidential search and selection process among the institutions of the System. It is recognized, however, that differences in institutional objectives, traditions, and cultures may require some institution-specific variation in search procedures within and consistent with these general guidelines.

Selection and Appointment of Presidents

The final selection and appointment of an institutional president is, by law, the responsibility and prerogative of the Board of Regents. All other elements of the search process under these guidelines are designed to assist the Regents in meeting that responsibility in a manner responsive to the leadership needs of the institution and the System.

Search and Screening Committee

The Chancellor will appoint a search and screening committee for each search for a president. The Chancellor will name the chair of the committee. The Board will review the committee selections.

The Search and Screening Committee will normally consist of 12-15 persons selected by the Chancellor from institutional constituent groups and/or individuals, including faculty, students, administrators, staff, alumni, foundation boards, boards of visitors, and, often, the institution’s general community. The Committee will be composed of a balanced selection of individuals drawn from some of these groups. It is essential that the members of the Committee see themselves and function not as representatives of particular special interest groups, but as members of a team dedicated to a single objective, the identification and recommendation of the strongest possible candidates for the presidency of the institution.

The Chair of the Board of Regents will designate a Regent who will serve as Regents’ Liaison to the Search and Screening Committee. The functions of the Regents’ Liaison are to assist the Committee in understanding the perspective of the Board of Regents as the work of the Committee proceeds and, when the recommendations of the Committee have been received by the Board, to help the Regents understand fully the context within which those recommendations were made. The Regents’ Liaison is not a voting member of the Committee.

The Chancellor will designate a Chancellor’s Liaison to the Search and Screening Committee. The function of the Chancellor’s Liaison is to provide to the Committee a direct and immediate source of informed advice as its work proceeds. The Chancellor’s Liaison is not a voting member of the Committee.

Responsibilities of the Search and Screening Committee

The primary responsibilities of the Search and Screening Committee are three-fold:

  1. To develop a broad and deep pool of strong candidates, through a national, and proactive search using all available means;
  2. To select from that pool, with care, deliberation, and thoroughness, a group of no fewer than three and (usually) no more than five finalist candidates to be recommended to the Regents, unranked.
  3. To adhere to a strict code of confidentiality.

In meeting its primary responsibilities, the Committee will:

  • Agree on a statement of professional qualifications and personal qualities sought in the individual to be selected as president, in consultation with and subject to the approval of the Chancellor.
  • Review the evolving role of a university president in today’s environment and develop a set of criteria that recognizes and encourages traditional academic candidates as well as non-traditional candidates.
  • Develop for itself procedures that will govern the conduct of the search.
  • Disseminate widely, through media advertisements and other means, information about the availability of the position.
  • Conduct an intensive and extensive proactive search for qualified candidates, using its own contacts and soliciting the assistance of any and all appropriate individuals or organizations internal and external to the institution. The Regents’ permit, but do not require, that the Committee employ an executive search service. If the Committee elects not to employ such a service, then it must employ a professional reference checker to ensure thorough, consistent, and fair use of sources of references on candidates, including checking references other than those submitted by the candidates.
  • Ensure that the search is demonstrably conducted in a manner consistent with both the letter and the spirit of relevant equal opportunity and diversity policies and requirements.
  • Screen candidates fairly and consistently, using evaluative criteria based on the professional qualifications and personal qualities sought.
  • Select and interview a group of semi-finalist candidates. (This group typically numbers 6-10.)
  • Select from the group of semi-finalist candidates a group of finalist candidates.
  • Submit to the Chancellor the names of the finalist candidates, unranked, together with all relevant information, and a written report of the Committee’s assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of each.
  • All persons involved must maintain confidentiality during the entire process to protect the candidates, the integrity of the process, and the interests of the institution. Only the University System Office at the direction of the Chancellor or the Chancellor’s designee should disclose information about the status of the search. Any request from the Search and Screening Committee to conduct an open or semi-open search, due to potentially unique circumstances that the committee feels the institution faces, should be submitted to the Chancellor, who will then act on this recommendation after consultation with the Board.

Chancellor’s and Regents’ Actions

Following receipt of the report of the Search and Screening Committee, the Chancellor will consult with the Committee Chair, the representative of the executive search service (if any), the professional reference checker (if separate from the search service), and conduct any further reference checks that may be appropriate. The Office of the Chancellor will arrange for interviews of the finalists by the Chancellor and the Regents. Prior to these interviews, the Chair of the Search and Screening Committee will personally brief the Regents and the Chancellor on the work and recommendations of the Committee. Following the interviews of the final candidates, the Regents will hear the recommendation of the Chancellor, and either proceed to select the successful candidate or charge the Committee to present other names.

Following the Regents’ selection, the Chancellor, in consultation with the Chair of the Board and with the advice of the Office of the Attorney General, will negotiate the terms of appointment with the successful candidate. Formal appointment by the Board of Regents and public announcement of the appointment will follow.

Duration of Searches

It is extremely important that a search be conducted expeditiously, in order to protect the candidate pool and the semi-finalist and finalist groups from erosion by competing searches in other institutions, and to impress upon candidates the seriousness and professionalism with which the search is conducted. The Regents expect that a search for president should normally lead to the appointment of a president within six months following the initiation of the process with the first meeting of the Search and Screening Committee. This means that the work of the Committee should normally extend over no more than four to five months. Though it is recognized that the nature of the academic calendar may in some cases require extending the search period, every effort must be made to avoid the deleterious consequences that can accompany a lengthy search process.

Staff Support

The Office of the Chancellor will arrange staff support for the Search and Screening Committee. In most cases, the primary staff support for the Committee will come from the Committee’s institution. University System Office staff will assist in such matters as: providing advice and assistance to the Chair of the Search and Screening Committee in handling Committee documents and communications; providing assistance in preparing Committee reports to the Chancellor; providing liaison between finalist candidates and the Chancellor and Regents in the final stages of the process; and maintaining the permanent records of the search.

Costs of the Search

Costs of the search will normally be borne by the institution for which the search is conducted.









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