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Presidential Search Begins

May 11, 2009

On March 5, 2009, the Baylor Board of Regents announced plans to identify the University's 14th president. Two working committees were named, a Presidential Search Committee, comprised of Regents, and a Presidential Search Advisory Committee, comprised of individuals representing Baylor alumni, faculty, staff and students, as well as the Waco community and Texas Baptists. Regent Joe Armes was named chairman of the Presidential Search Committee.

"The Baylor family is blessed to have two committees populated by thoughtful servant leaders who are prepared to commit a great deal of time and effort because they want to ensure Baylor's continued preeminence in Christian higher education. This process will benefit greatly from the wisdom and diligence of these committee members," Armes said.

To assist in the presidential search process, the University has retained the services of the Atlanta-based search firm Baker and Associates. The firm's president, Jerry Baker, who will be coordinating the work with Baylor, has earned an outstanding reputation for academic executive searches.

Baker has been in the executive search industry for more than 33 years and has completed more than 900 searches, about half of those in higher education. His firm has provided executive search services to universities such as Cornell, Georgetown, Harvard, Rice, Texas A&M, Tulane, Wake Forest and Yale, and academic-related organizations such as the American Council on Education, Business Higher Education Forum, Law School Admissions Council, NCAA and NACUBO, the National Association of College and University Business Officers.

BaylorNews recently spoke with Baker about the presidential search process at Baylor.

BaylorNews: Is the role of a consultant in an executive search in higher education any different than it would be in other industries?

Jerry Baker: The role of the consultant is the same -- to bring the very best people we can into candidacy for the position. But, there are some nuances of the higher education search process. These searches may take longer than corporate executive searches due to the process often employed. A higher ed search may have multiple committees involved in the formation of a profile of the best candidate and in the review of potential candidates to be interviewed. Collaboration and the opportunity for input are key to the successful search.

BN: What is the climate for this search in today's market?

Baker: Baylor has a strong reputation. While the mood in today's market is more cautious, more risk averse, I believe there will be excellent candidates who find the mission of Baylor University to align with their own. Caution may lead to candidates asking more questions to be sure that at this time they are right for Baylor and Baylor is right for them, but the right candidate will emerge.

BN: Why did Baker and Associates want to work with Baylor?

Baker: I have personally admired the work of Baylor University for many years. I am a graduate of Wake Forest University and hold a Masters of Divinity degree from Harvard. I am an ordained Baptist minister and have served for the past 10 years on the Board of Regents at Wake Forest. I understand the importance of finding a person who values the ideals of faith and learning and who shares the passion for Baylor's future.

BN: What do candidates want to know about an institution they are considering?

Baker: Candidates are interested in the recent past and in the organization's outlook toward the future. In Baylor's case, candidates will want to discuss past presidencies and their impact on the University. They will also want to discuss Baylor 2012 and the progress made with respect to the various initiatives it contains. It will be important to candidates that University leaders, faculty, staff, students, alumni, community and friends all believe in and are prepared to support future goals of the next president.

BN: What do you believe are the most compelling reasons a candidate would consider Baylor?

Baker: Generally, there is stronger interest in private universities than in public universities. In addition, Baylor's location in the southwest part of the United States and in Texas is also attractive. But well beyond that, Baylor is a world-class institution with excellent faculty and a talented student population. The affiliation with the Baptist community will be a strong factor for many candidates. In the end, I believe the quality of the institution and the commitment to academic excellence and Christian faith will be Baylor's strongest draw.

BN: Any final thoughts for our readers?

Baker: The people who have been selected for these working committees have committed themselves to an important task -- each individual has the best interest of Baylor at heart. Trust the process and give it time. Understand that the confidentiality of candidates must be protected if we are going to attract the very best candidates. We will be telling the Baylor story around the country and extraordinarily talented men and women will be considering this position. I look forward to hearing all the input from the listening sessions and to finding a president for Baylor who will lead this great University for many years to come.

More information about Baylor's presidential search is available by visiting www.baylor.edu/president/search.

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