Search Committee Kickoff

May 26, 2020

As you know, President Donahue announced his retirement after a very successful seven-year legacy in April. In early May, the Saint Mary’s College (SMC) Board of Trustees used the Governance and Nominating Committee augmented by Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Margaret Kasimatis to select a premier search firm partner to commence the selection process. A nationwide selection process ensued, and we are heartened to report that we have retained AGB Search to assist in SMC's presidential search. AGB Search is located in Washington, D.C., and works exclusively in higher education. Monica Burton and Shannon McCambridge will serve the College as consultants in this very important effort.

We also are pleased to share that the Presidential Search Committee has been organized. It includes the following members:

  • Kevin Nagle - BOT Chair, Search Committee Co-Chair
  • Kim Vogel - Trustee, Search Committee Co-Chair, Former Adjunt Faculty    
  • John Arnaudon - Trustee
  • Kevin Flynn - Trustee
  • Brother Charles Hilken, FSC - Trustee - Faculty
  • Brother Donald Johanson, FSC - Trustee
  • Brother Bernard LoCoco, FSC - Trustee
  • Sharon Muir - Trustee
  • Rand Morimoto - Alumni
  • Margaret Kasimatis - Administration
  • Ron Ahnen - Faculty
  • Vidya Chandrasekaran - Faculty
  • Jennifer Heung - Faculty (Alternate)
  • Bedford Palmer - Faculty
  • Philip Goodwin - Staff

Although a pre-committee meeting occurred last Thursday, our first official meeting with the AGB consultants occurred today. During today’s Search Committee meeting, the committee learned more about the search process, which is essentially broken down into the following seven phases:

Phase I: Plan & Organize the Search     May

Phase II: Approve Presidential Profile, Advertising & Recruiting Plan, Begin National Recruiting       June

Phase III: Launch Search, Advertising/Outreach Begins, Build Candidate Pool     July

Phase IV: Continue Building Candidate Pool & Evaluate Candidates       August - September

Phase V: Evaluate Candidates & Select Semi-Finalists       October

Phase VI: Complete Initial Background Checks & Conduct Preliminary Interviews     November                                            

Phase VII: Conduct On-Campus Visits, Selection Decision & Appointment      December

Please note that the months identified in the above-referenced phases may change if SMC’s academic calendar is revised in response to the COVID-19 crisis. We are confident the search can be adapted to whatever schedule may be adopted and are anticipating different scenarios at this time.

During today’s Search Committee meeting, an official “Charge” was presented to the members by Board of Trustee Chair Kevin Nagle. The charge authorizes the advisory committee to represent the College in this important search for SMC’s next president, asks that it respect confidentiality, and that it recommend two to four candidates to visit campus.

The Search Committee also reviewed the duties and responsibilities of individual committee members. Their primary responsibilities include impartially reviewing candidate material and maintaining complete confidentiality of all search discussions, candidates, nominees, and prospects during the active search and after it is completed. Search Committee members will participate in anti bias training as part of this process.

A comprehensive draft Timeline and Search Schedule was also reviewed by the committee. The Search Schedule is essentially broken down into the above–referenced phases. Comprehensive candidate background checks are also completed at various phases in the process. Absent COVID-19–related delays, it is expected that the next president will be appointed by January 2021, or as soon thereafter as possible. It is also expected that finalist candidates will visit campus in December. Please know the entire campus community will have an opportunity to meet with presidential candidates and provide feedback on the candidates at that time.

As you know, the SMC campus remains closed at this time due to COVID-19. However, our consultants have already scheduled Zoom listening sessions with members of the SMC community. The first listening sessions include conversations with: trustees, faculty, administrators, staff, students, alums, and other SMC stakeholders. A follow-up listening session also has been scheduled for mid-September, when our co-consultants plan to visit campus for two days. The primary objective of the listening sessions is to identify the strategic priorities of the next president and the leadership qualities needed to successfully execute those priorities.

In addition to ensuring that information is received from a cross-section of the SMC community through listening sessions, our consultants will be inviting all of you to share thoughts regarding qualifications of the next president via SurveyMonkey. Please watch for an email from David Ford announcing the survey, and access instructions in mid-June. Please know we welcome your comments and thank you in advance for taking the time to respond to the survey.

Based on information gathered from listening sessions over the next month, SurveyMonkey, and meetings with the Search Committee in May, the consultants will prepare a draft Presidential Profile and Advertising Plan. The profile, which describes SMC, the priorities of the next president, and the leadership qualifications needed in our next president, will be reviewed, discussed, and approved by the Search Committee the week of June 29. The search is expected to launch by mid-July. At that time, the profile will be disseminated through extensive advertising and posted on the websites of AGB Search and SMC.

Once the profile has been posted and circulated, the consultants’ focus will be devoted to building a strong and diverse candidate pool. This will occur through nominations received from you and the College community, national education and association officials, other colleges and universities, friends of SMC, broad and diverse advertising in national publications, and the networking diligence of our consultants.

At its October meeting, the Search Committee is expected to begin reviewing candidate application material and narrowing the candidate pool. The most promising candidates will be invited to participate in preliminary interviews in November. Following preliminary interviews, it is expected that two to four finalists will be invited to visit campus in December.

Please know that it is our expectation that you will all have an opportunity to meet finalist candidates when they visit campus in December. You also will be invited to provide your feedback on the candidates via SurveyMonkey. If this schedule should change based on SMC’s response to a COVID-19 issue, the campus community will be advised as soon as possible.

The search is off to an excellent start. We are especially grateful to David Ford, who has agreed to serve as search administrator. His assistance in scheduling countless listening sessions and committee meetings has been invaluable. Please know additional updates will be provided as the presidential search continues. Thank you for your support, and please continue to stay safe.


Kim Vogel, Trustee
Kevin Nagle, Board Chair

Co-Chairs of the Presidential Selection Committee
Saint Mary’s College of California