Presidential Selection Search

Dear Saint Mary's Community:

Many of you are now aware that after nearly seven years of dedicated servant leadership, President James Donahue has elected to retire when his current term expires at the conclusion of the 2020–2021 academic year. We are grateful for his leadership and contributions. We are also appreciative that President Donahue shared his intentions with the Board of Trustees early so there could be significant time to carefully plan for the selection process and a seamless transition for our next president.

Shortly after President Donahue announced privately that he would be retiring at the conclusion of his second term, the Board Chairperson engaged the Governance Committee to begin initial undertakings that would create a framework for a Presidential Search Committee. The Governance Committee members have excellent backgrounds and experience, including being past Lasallian University presidents, and having an understanding of our mission, financial and academic expertise, and executive leadership, among other skill sets.

The committee conducted due diligence with past Presidential Selection Search members through interviews and written historical processes, and is developing a best practices selection framework. The Governance Committee also agreed that there should be co-chairs to lead the Presidential Selection Committee, and they would be Trustee Kim Vogel and Board Chair Kevin Nagle. Furthermore, the committee recommended that 13 members serve who represent the majority constituencies of the College:  Brothers, faculty, trustees, Cabinet, staff, and alumni, along with substantial input from students and the SMC community at large. (Invitations will be sent out shortly to Presidential Selection Committee members, as each has been briefly interviewed and said he/she would participate if asked.)

The co-chairs have also begun evaluating in substantial depth qualified Executive Search Firms with backgrounds in small private colleges to assist us in facilitating the selection process. Dozens have been analyzed, and the most qualified will engage in follow-up interviews this coming week.

This is a challenging time for most all small, private, Catholic colleges, and SMC is no different. Despite our excellent record in most areas, including selecting highly qualified students, we face the unforeseen issues of enrollment and financial pressures that are being exacerbated by COVID-19. This creates a whole new set of leadership and management qualifications that the incoming president must have to lead us through an unparalleled time. We will be reaching out and communicating to you our progress.

There is no question that the Presidential Selection Committee will find the most highly qualified individual who embraces the core values of SMC and who will understand and embrace our rich Lasallian traditions.

We look forward to keeping you informed!


Kim Vogel, Trustee
Kevin Nagle, Board Chair

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