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Presidential update

President+Raynard+Kington+will+be+departing+from+his+role+at+Grinnell+College+to+be+president+at+Phillips+Academy+Andover.
President Raynard Kington will be departing from his role at Grinnell College to be president at Phillips Academy Andover.

In December of 2019, President Raynard Kington announced that he will be leaving Grinnell College to serve as the Head of Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts at the end of the 2019-2020 academic year. Now, the search has begun for his replacement.The Presidential Search Committee, a task force consisting of trustees, faculty, staff, alumni and one student, Regina Logan ’20, the Student Government Association President, announced that they had hired executive search firm Isaacson, Miller to aid in the search for a new president. 

Isaacson, Miller assisted the College in hiring President Kington after former President Russell K. Osgood left Grinnell to teach law at Washington University in St. Louis.

Next week, members of the Isaacson, Miller team will be on campus to meet with a cross-section of the College community.  After the visit, the team will utilize the public’s input to work with the search committee to draft a candidate profile.

“The profile will be a public document and will articulate the key priorities for Grinnell’s next president; it will also identify the important skill sets, experiences and characteristics that the search committee will look for in prospective candidates,” Trustees Trish Anderson ’80 and George Moose ’66 wrote in an email to The S&B. 

The search committee aims to recruit candidates from a diverse background. Anderson and Moose wrote that they were drawn to Isaacson, Miller’s track record of and commitment to recruiting women and people of color into leadership. Over the course of the firm’s 30-plus year history, 43 percent of its placements have been women and 23 percent have been people of color.

“As someone committed to increasing diversity in leadership, I’ve been happy with the commitment that Isaacson, Miller has shown to bring the committee a diverse group of candidates,” said Logan in an email to The S&B.

The Presidential Search Committee was unable to provide any additional information outside of the campus update email. Debra Lukehart, vice president of communications for the College, said that Committee members are unable to talk about the process as Isaacson, Miller has a strict communication plan and does not want to deviate from that.

Other peer institutions appear to be facing similar uncertainties in their presidential searches. Macalester College is currently undergoing their own searches. The College has identified four candidates, the top two of whom were asked to meet with groups of faculty, students, staff, senior staff and trustees in early December. Like Grinnell College, Macalester is utilizing a search firm, Spencer Stuart.

For Grinnell students, the main concerns are who will be hired and if they will share the values of the student body. Students want a president who matches their values and sometimes the principles of the administration and students are at odds.

“I think it is pretty important that the president we have is not focused on personal prestige and glory, but more focused on things that Grinnellians care about and things that will benefit students — for example, increasing financial aid,” said Jeman Park ’20.

For Logan, her priority for the new president is a commitment to students and self-governance. 

“One specific thing I’m looking for in candidates is a clear vision of, or unique ideas about, how students fit into shared governance at the college. I strongly believe that if students are given the tools and trusted to be engaged citizens of the college, we gain the skills that make us better citizens in our surrounding and future communities,” she said.

Further, Logan encourages students to take part in the search and advocate for their priorities. 

“I hope students will reach out anytime about the sorts of things they hope to see in their next college president! I appreciate everyone that has reached out so far to offer their insights because I’m committed to the student perspective being heard and honored in this search.”

This article has been edited to reflect that St.Norbert College is not currently undergoing a presidential search.

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