Selection Process

In 2012, Saint Mary's kicked off the search for our 29th president. Read the presidential position specification, view the additional candidate information or download the position announcement.

Original Position Description

Saint Mary’s College of California seeks a dynamic leader to serve as its 29th president.  Celebrating 150 years of education in the tradition of the De La Salle Christian Brothers, Saint Mary’s College of California is a Catholic, liberal arts, residential college serving approximately 4,000 students, promoting rigorous critical thinking, shared inquiry, and social justice. Located on a beautiful 420-acre campus in the Moraga Hills east of San Francisco, Saint Mary’s is known for its liberal arts undergraduate education, including its Collegiate Seminar and January Term programs; high-quality graduate and professional programs, including business, education, leadership and fine arts; and award-winning, internationally recognized faculty and students.

Saint Mary’s students rate their college experience as academically challenging and engaging, with a supportive learning community that provides a transformative education to a vibrant and diverse student body. Consistent with the College’s Catholic mission, approximately a third of Saint Mary’s undergraduate students are Pell-eligible, and half are ethnic minorities. Student life is marked by the Lasallian tradition of service; Saint Mary’s is a member of the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction, with students providing nearly 40,000 hours of service to communities in the U.S. and abroad. Saint Mary’s Division I sports programs are nationally known; in 2012, Saint Mary’s fielded three West Coast Conference (WCC) championship teams and sent four teams to NCAA championship play. Saint Mary’s is also one of the 40 distinguished institutions included in the most recent edition of Colleges That Change Lives and is the first Catholic, California or NCAA Division I institution so honored.

Under its new president, Saint Mary’s will increase recognition for its compelling approach to education and enhance its financial sustainability. The president will personify the College’s liberal arts, Catholic and Lasallian identity, and as a committed Roman Catholic, he or she will advance Catholic intellectual thought and Saint Mary’s distinctive model of shared inquiry in inclusive community. The president will be an exceptional communicator who respects shared governance and will advocate the College’s cause in building its profile and seeking philanthropic support. As the academic leader of the College and the faculty, the president ideally possesses a distinguished record of teaching, evidence of scholarship and service in higher education, and an earned terminal degree from an accredited institution.  

Recruitment will continue until an appointment is made. Nominations, suggestions and expressions of candidate interest (including a CV/résumé and cover letter) should be submitted via email to Witt/Kieffer is assisting in the search and confidential inquiries and questions concerning the position or search process may be directed to Katherine Haley at 603-748-4399, or Brian Bloomfield at 949-797-3548.

Saint Mary's is an equal opportunity employer, and does not tolerate any type of unlawful discrimination. 


January 17, 2012

Dear Members of the Saint Mary’s College Community,

The search process for Saint Mary’s next president has been extremely active over the past few months and several important milestones in the process have been achieved. The position has been advertised extensively nationally and internationally and the search firm that the College selected to assist in this work, Witt Kiefer, and their team of Dr. Kate Haley and Brian Bloomfield has been actively recruiting highly qualified individuals. I am pleased to report that these efforts have yielded a significant pool of candidates that meets my expectation for its size and quality. The search committee is now working to carefully review and consider these candidates. In order to attract the qualified candidates we seek, the process must and will remain highly confidential.

I remain confident that we will be able to introduce the College’s next president to the campus community early this spring,

Peter Kelly
Chair, Presidential Search Committee Trustee

October 14, 2012

Dear Members of the Saint Mary’s College Community,

A great deal of progress has been made over the past several months in the search for Saint Mary’s next president. I am writing to update you on the steps that have been completed, provide a resource for additional information about the search and share some thoughts about next steps in the process.

In their message to the campus community announcing the search, Trustee Board Chair Russell Harrison and Provincial Brother Donald Johanson, FSC, reported that a subset of the full Search Committee (myself, Provost Beth Dobkin, Trustee and Professor Brother Charles Hilken, former Board Chair James Quandt and Regent James Wood) would be working over the summer months to identify a leading executive search firm to assist with the search process. The review of search consultants was completed this summer and Witt Kieffer, a highly regarded firm with substantial experience in the recruitment of Catholic college presidents, was selected. Soon after, through a collaborative and inclusive process, the complete Presidential Search Committee was established. A roster of the full Presidential Search Committee is available at left. In addition, in accordance with the College’s bylaws, the recruitment of Christian Brother candidates began immediately with a letter from Brother Donald to Christian Brother superiors throughout North America.

The next task for the committee was to develop the position specification document and the position announcement. With the assistance of our search consultants and extensive interviews with dozens of members of our community beyond the Search Committee, this work was recently completed. You can access these documents via links at the top of this page. With these resources in hand, the formal recruitment will begin today.

I will be sharing additional developments in the search process as they become available. I want to thank the many members of our community who have already been of assistance in this search and urge you to direct nominations, qualified candidates or those seeking information to our consultants at  And please direct those seeking information about the presidential search process to our presidential search web page at

I remain confident that we will be in the enviable position of introducing the 29th president of Saint Mary’s College to the campus community during our sesquicentennial year.

Peter Kelly
Chair, Presidential Search Committee Trustee

June 18, 2012

Dear Members of the Saint Mary’s College Community,

We are writing today with important news. After nearly eight years of dedicated leadership, Brother Ronald Gallagher has decided to step down from his role as president and return to the faculty when his current term ends on June 30, 2013. We are grateful for Brother Ronald’s many important contributions to Saint Mary’s and look forward to his return to the classroom.   

An international search for his replacement, assisted by a leading executive search firm, will begin this summer. As determined by Saint Mary’s bylaws, the process will begin with a search for any qualified Christian Brother candidates. If a qualified De La Salle Christian Brother cannot be identified or is unwilling to serve, then other practicing Catholic applicants will be invited to apply. A subset of what will eventually be a more comprehensive presidential search committee is currently working to identify a firm to assist in conducting the search; this group includes former Board of Trustees Chair and current Trustee Peter Kelly, Provost Beth Dobkin, Trustee and Professor Brother Charles Hilken, former Board Chair James Quandt and Regent James Wood.

Details of the search process will be finalized after the firm is hired. In the meantime, we want you to know that we are committed to a broad-based and collaborative search process that extensively involves Saint Mary’s community members. We are confident that we will be able to introduce a highly qualified new president to our campus community early in 2013.

Due in large part to Brother Ronald’s accomplishments over the past seven and a half years, we believe that Saint Mary’s is particularly well positioned for a presidential transition at this time.  Brother Ronald assumed the presidency at a period of some turbulence for Saint Mary’s and soon after encountered the most challenging economic times our nation has faced in the past half-century. His steady leadership has allowed the College to maintain fiscal stability and at the same time establish institutional momentum on many fronts. The Building on Strengths Strategic Plan, developed and completed during Brother Ronald’s tenure, has provided a road map for College planning and development. Significant progress in institutional and academic planning, curricular development, mission enhancement and institutional marketing provide a particularly fertile context for a presidential transition at this time.

We also believe that a host of indicators of institutional vitality will make Saint Mary’s a particularly attractive leadership opportunity. Traditional undergraduate enrollment is at an all-time high, and the College has attracted the most academically qualified and diverse undergraduate student body in its history. The College has become known nationally and internationally for its strong curriculum, its faculty, its inclusive community and its beautiful campus. Donor relations and alumni participation have been broadened. Saint Mary’s has achieved consistent improvement and success in its Division I athletic programs. The construction of the Kalmanovitz School of Education and Filippi Academic Hall, the Louis Guisto baseball field, renovations of campus facilities, including Oliver Hall, Dante Hall, De La Salle Hall and Augustine Hall, and the planned construction of the Joseph Alioto Recreation Center have substantially strengthened the College’s physical infrastructure.

In the days ahead, we will be in regular contact with the Saint Mary’s community as additional details of the presidential search process are finalized, such as full search committee membership and more precise timelines. We also look forward to sharing information in Spring 2013 about opportunities to honor and celebrate Brother Ronald’s efforts. Finally, we are enthusiastic about the prospect of introducing the 29th president of Saint Mary’s to the College community during the upcoming Sesquicentennial year. 


Brother Donald Johanson, FSC 
Provincial, San Francisco Province of the Order of the Brothers of the Christian Schools

Russell Harrison
Chair, Saint Mary’s College Board of Trustees