Search for next Harper College president formally begins
A year before Ken Ender retires as the fifth president of Harper College, the school's board of trustees formally has begun the process to find his successor.
This week, trustees are expected to select a search firm that would collect applications, review candidates and facilitate interviews, eventually leading to the board making a pick by March 2019 and having a new president in place by July 2019, when Ender's contract expires.
Trustee Pat Stack, chairman of a 17-member presidential search advisory committee that convened for the first time last week, and Trustee Diane Hill, the committee's vice chair, have been reviewing the qualifications of as many as 10 search firms. That list has been narrowed to two, and after final interviews Monday and Wednesday, the college's board is expected to pick one of them after a closed session meeting Wednesday night.
"All the firms feel Harper has an excellent national reputation and is well-regarded and known," Hill said. "There was no doubt we would attract a great pool of candidates."
Members of the committee, which includes Harper administrators, faculty and foundation board trustees, say they're open to internal, regional and national candidates from both inside and outside higher education. They are hopeful the next president has the staying power of the first five leaders in the 50-year history of the Palatine-based community college, where each has served about a decade.
"Here, we have to do this every 10 years," Stack said.
A preliminary timeline calls for initial review of applicants in October, the advisory committee selecting three to five semifinalists by November, and on-campus interviews in January. The committee would recommend three finalists to the seven-member elected Harper board, who would be responsible for hiring the next president.
The formal search process was precipitated by the board paying $19,000 in January to the Aspen Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based educational and policy studies organization, to develop a profile of desired characteristics in the next president and define the school's strengths and weaknesses.
The organization would remain on call as a consultant during the search process, officials have said.