Harper College kicks off search for Ender's successor

  • Harper College President Ken Ender plans to step down in June 2019, leading the board of trustees to begin the process to find his successor.

      Harper College President Ken Ender plans to step down in June 2019, leading the board of trustees to begin the process to find his successor. Madhu Krishnamurthy | Staff Photographer, 2010

  • Greg Dowell

    Greg Dowell

 
 
Updated 1/5/2018 10:21 PM

Harper College is kicking off a search for its next leader -- a year and a half before current President Ken Ender is expected to step down at the end of his contract.

The board of trustees will pay $19,000 to the Aspen Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based educational and policy studies organization, to assist with initial steps in the Palatine-based community college's president search.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Aspen will spend the next six months developing a profile of desired characteristics in the next president and defining the school's strengths and weaknesses. The organization wouldn't take the place of a search firm -- the board is expected to hire one to find candidates -- but Aspen would remain on call as a consultant, Harper board Chairman Greg Dowell said.

Dowell called the initial meetings with Aspen part of a "reflective" process for board members.

"It's where are we now, where are we headed, and where do we think the future will take us," Dowell said. "When that visioning is done, that can help us think about the leadership characteristics to help get us there."

Dowell said picking a college president is the most important thing the board is tasked with and he hopes to find someone who could serve as president for 10 years. Harper has had five presidents in its 50-year history, each serving about a decade.

Ender, hired in 2009, received a five-year contract extension in 2014 that runs through June 2019. He says he doesn't consider it a retirement, since he still plans to teach classes on the East Coast, serve on boards, and provide job coaching to other college leaders. But next year at age 69, Ender says he's looking to slow down his work schedule a bit.

Ender is on track to have served more than two decades at the helm of a community college, after his previous 11-year tenure at Cumberland County College in New Jersey.

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