ECU Chancellor search seeks broad candidate pool

Dec. 17, 2015

ECU News Services

Academic credentials are preferred but may not be required for East Carolina University's next chancellor, members of the search committee said Wednesday.

Instead, the committee suggested its search firm, Witt/Kieffer, initially recruit candidates broadly, seeking proven experiences and capabilities, such as leading change, fund raising and advocacy.

"One of the most important things a CEO can do is lead change," said search committee member Fielding Miller, co-founder and CEO of CAPTRUST in Raleigh. "Regardless of the background, they need to have a record of leading positive change."

David White, dean of the College of Engineering and Technology and a member of the committee, said past talent searches have taught him not to limit the candidate pool too much at the beginning.

"I would hate to eliminate someone from the get-go who would be a great leader for our institution and be successful at the things we want and need," White said.

"We are trying to find a CEO, not a chief academic officer," said Henry Hinton of Greenville, a member of the UNC Board of Governors serving on the search committee. "We need a fund-raising, region-raising individual."

Fit is just as important as background, said John Stiller, chair of the ECU Faculty Senate and search committee member.

"What I would point out is that we are hiring a CEO, but just being a successful CEO is not going to provide success at running a complex institution," Stiller said. "We have to find the right individual for this institution."

The committee met at RDU Airport to review the leadership profile that will be used to recruit candidates and to hear brief remarks from UNC President-elect Margaret Spellings. Spellings begins work March 1 and will recommend the successful candidate to the UNC Board of Governors, which oversees the UNC system.

Spellings praised ECU's impact on the economy, on medicine, on education and its engagement. She also noted its ability to adapt to change.

"ECU plays a key role in the economy of (eastern North Carolina) and the state," she said. "It is a leader in preparing primary care physicians and a trailblazer in community engagement," Spellings said. "It is also a shining example of how to adapt to the times and to change."

Spellings said leadership, communication and advocacy are essential competencies for ECU's next chancellor and encouraged the committee to seek a broad candidate pool.

"We must be open to every possibility," Spellings said.

Spellings said the public continues to ask whether higher education is affordable and whether it is accessible. Universities must provide "the best answer we can."

That "value proposition," she said, means universities must use data to steer and to correct so that they provide the best opportunity possible and best value for stakeholders.

"Our shared goal is to find a chancellor (for ECU) who can make that opportunity and value a reality for every student," she said.

Recruiting for candidates is expected to begin no later than next week, according to the search consultant, and continue through January. The next step would come in early February, when committee members are expected to begin reviewing the candidate pool.

At the conclusion of the search, the Board of Trustees will forward a slate of three unranked finalists to the UNC President for consideration. Upon nomination by the president, the new chancellor must be elected by the UNC Board of Governors.