Presidential Search Moves Forward

Ursinus College has laid the foundation for its upcoming presidential search, announcing the members of the search committee as well as the consultant who will conduct the comprehensive search.

Alan Novak ’71, chair of the Board of Trustees, shared the news with the college community on Friday, November 21.

“We are about to embark on a search that coincides with an important juncture in our college’s history,” Novak said in the announcement. “This decision will define our path forward. It will also allow us to recommit ourselves to the objectives and goals that have already been clearly outlined in our strategic plan.”

Novak named Trustee Michael Marcon ’86 as chair of a presidential search committee that consists of ten members of the Board of Trustees, four faculty members, three staff members and three students. Trustees Carol Haas ’70 and Nina Stryker ’78 will serve as co-chairs.

“Our most important priority, our number one objective, is to make sure the committee reflects the college’s DNA,” says Marcon. “We wanted to be certain that we had all the constituencies that have a stake in the college’s future well represented. And within those constituencies, we sought to include multiple voices to ensure as collaborative and thorough a process as possible.”

Novak also announced that Shelly Weiss Storbeck, co-founder and managing partner of the firm of Storbeck/Pimentel & Associates, will manage the search process. Storbeck is recognized as one of the most highly regarded search consultants in the country, having led over 500 successful searches in the education and non-profit sectors. 

“It was a very, very difficult decision because the firms were excellent and all highly credentialed,” says Marcon, who, with Novak and the Board’s executive committee, evaluated a number of search firms before selecting Storbeck/Pimentel & Associates. 

“Shelly was the only person who was prepared to talk about our long-term focus,” Marcon added. “Clearly, the firms all indicated that Ursinus College is on the rise. But Shelly was able to specifically address our vision and where we’re heading over the next 10-15 years. It was a focus that resonated among members of the executive committee.” 

Setting a “high standard”

“This is going to be a very engaged and deliberative group. We demand that of ourselves,” Marcon says of the search committee. “After all, this is arguably the single most important decision for the future of the college, particularly given the unexpected circumstances around which it developed.” 

When President Bobby Fong passed away on September 8 after just three years in office, Marcon says he left behind a culture that is highly collaborative, open and respectful. “That culture permeates the campus. Bobby created a high standard that we, as a large committee, are committed to upholding.” 

Marcon says he plans to be transparent and engage the community throughout the process. “We want to inform everyone with an interest in what’s going on,” he says, adding that he sees committee members as campus liaisons who will share developments and solicit feedback during the search. 

The team of 20 individuals will define the candidate description, review the qualifications of many of the candidates, interview the final candidates and, ultimately, make a recommendation to the board. Along with Marcon, Haas and Stryker, the committee is comprised of the following individuals:  

Faculty: Beth Bailey, Associate Professor of Biology; Rebecca Evans, Chair and Associate Professor of Politics; April Kontostathis, Associate Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science; and Nathan Rein, Chair and Associate Professor of Religious Studies. 

Staff: Missy Bryant, Assistant Dean of Students and Director of the Center for Academic Support; Charles Rice, Chaplain and Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Religion; and Kevin Small, Head Coach, Men’s Basketball.

Students: Uli Luxem ’16, Business and Economics: Nina Petry ’16, English; and Rachel Philip ’15, Neuroscience. 

Trustees include Will Abele ’61, David Bloom ’87, Robert Brant ’77, Patricia Clark ’73, Jef CorsonMichael Lewis ’67 and Harold Smith ’55. Additionally, several board members will serve as ex-officio members of the committee, including Alan Novak ’71, Chair of the Board of Trustees; Joseph DeSimone ’86, Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees; Patricia Cosgrave, trustee emeritus; Nancy Opalack ’71; and Bradley Brewster ’74. 

Note: The committee will keep the Ursinus community informed as the search progresses.  Please refer to the Ursinus web site as a primary source of information on the search.