Presidential Search

Presidential search committee announced. Learn more...

Dear WPI Community,

We have begun the process of searching for the next president of WPI, and wanted to share with you both the progress to date as well as our general plan moving forward.

As part of the bylaws of Worcester Polytechnic Institute, the responsibility for finding and appointing the WPI President rests with the Board. Indeed, one could make the case that this task is the most important decision a board is asked to make. Since it is so important, the search committee will be seeking input from stakeholders early in the process. We will be interested to hear your thoughts on the qualities and qualifications we will seek in out next President, and will welcome your thinking regarding the key priorities for WPI going forward.

In order to have a successful outcome, we fully understand that community engagement in this process is vitally important.

The Board of Trustees, after looking at industry best-practices, recently approved a committee structure of 8 trustee members and 7 non-trustee members. The trustees elected the 8 members from the Board, and sought nominations for representatives from the faculty, administration, staff, students body, and alumni base. A slate of nominees in each category was presented, and the Board also elected the remaining 7 members. The search committee membership is as follows: 

  • Jack Mollen, Committee Chairman, trustee member
  • Warner Fletcher, Chairman of the Board, trustee member
  • Philip Ryan, Interim President, trustee member
  • Diran Apelian, Professor, faculty representative
  • Jon Bartelson, Assistant CIO, staff representative
  • James Baum, trustee member
  • Julie Bliss, graduate student, student representative
  • Kristin Boudreau, Professor, faculty representative
  • Michael Dolan, trustee member
  • George Oliver, trustee member
  • Stephen Rubin, trustee member
  • Joan Szkutak, trustee member
  • Kristin Tichenor, Senior VP, administration representative
  • Myles Walton, alumni member
  • Amy Zeng, Professor, faculty representative

Logistics support for the search process will be managed by Stephanie Pasha, in her role as Secretary of the Corporation.

The trustee membership of the committee interviewed several national search firms. We are happy to announce the we have unanimously chosen to engage the services of Spencer Stuart, a leader in executive search. The committee will be working with Michele Haertel and Chuck Jordan.

Based on industry best-practice, WPI will be conducting a “confidential” search. This means that community input will be sought extensively, especially at the beginning of the process as the job specification is being crafted, but that the screening of candidates and interviews will be conducted confidentially. This differs from an “open” search where candidate interest is generally widely known on campus (and in the higher ed community). Many top candidates will decline to be considered in open searches, and we believe that WPI deserves an excellent pool of the very best candidates.

We will hold several open sessions on campus for each category of faculty, staff, and students in late August / early September, and invite those stakeholders to participate. We will also have engagement opportunities, largely electronic, for our alumni. These sessions will be an opportunity for the community to share with the committee and our consultants its ideas about WPI’s needs for the immediate and longer term future, the opportunities for WPI, and the characteristics most important in a successful next president. We hope that many of you will take advantage of the opportunity to participate in this important process.

There is a confidential email address that you can use to make suggestions, nominations, or pose other queries about the search: wpipresident@spencerstuart.com.

The projected and hoped for timeline for the search is as follows:

  • August-September: Research and interviews with stakeholders
  • Late September: Job specification document completion, shared with community and public
  • October – December: Committee reviews candidate materials and interviews an initial pool, then proceeds to second interviews with finalists
  • Late winter to early spring, 2014: Committee interviews finalists, makes recommendation to Board of Trustees. Board makes final decision and negotiates contract. Next President announced by April.

This is a very ambitious timeline, and could obviously change depending on the candidate pool and availability. We will be guided by the best outcome for WPI, not by the calendar. The community will be updated by the Committee Chairman, Jack Mollen, throughout the process. We are very fortunate to have Phil Ryan serving as our Interim President. His willingness to serve affords the committee the ability to spend time finding the best candidate for WPI without the pressure of an absence of leadership. The Board appreciates President Ryan’s dedication to WPI, and the excellent leadership that he has been providing since stepping in to the role in May.

Finally, we thank you in advance for your participation and support during this process. We will be sending out dates for the open forums in the next week or two, so that you can plan your schedule to be able to participate.


Jack Mollen, Search Committee Chair
Warner Fletcher, Chairman, Board of Trustees

June 19, 2013

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