NORMAL — Heartland Community College will be searching for a person with an advanced degree with significant senior-level leadership experience, preferably in higher education, for its next president.
That was the conclusion reached Friday after the board of trustees met with a representative of the firm helping to search for a successor for President Rob Widmer, who will retire June 30.
Jerry Israel, a senior consultant with Academic Search, spent Thursday and Friday meeting with various groups at the college. One session open to the general public was attended by 16 people.
At those meetings, including the special board meeting Friday afternoon, people provided input on what qualifications and attributes they want to see in the next president.
Among the desired attributes that came up repeatedly at the meetings were good skills in communication, listening, critical thinking and collaboration, according to Israel.
Board member Becky Ropp said, “We don't want someone who blows in the wind, but we don't want someone who's dictatorial.”
Israel said one person summed it up well by saying the president should be someone who can “celebrate Heartland's excellence and challenge Heartland to improve.”
Although higher education experience is preferred, those involved in the search did not want to define the requirements so narrowly that it might exclude a strong candidate with a different background.
Israel will use the information to develop a position profile, which will get final approval from the search advisory committee before the job is advertised.
The search will be launched no later than the week before Thanksgiving and include ads, information on Heartland's and Academic Search's websites and emails to potential candidates, explained Israel.
“Chances are the person you have will not be looking for a job” but will be recommended by others, he said.
Israel expects Heartland to get 40 to 80 applicants for the job, based on his experience with other searches. Working in Heartland's favor is that the college is doing well and is located in an attractive community with job opportunities for the successful applicant's spouse and good schools if they have children, he said.
Although a precise timeline hasn't been established, Israel said, the search committee will narrow the field to eight to 16 semifinalists in late January and conduct confidential interviews. No names will be made public until the field is narrowed to three or four finalists, probably in March, he said.
The new president would take office July 1.
For Israel, assisting in the search is kind of like coming home. He was a member of the Illinois Wesleyan University faculty from 1974 to 1988. He served as president of Morningside College in Iowa and the University of Indianapolis.
He has been involved in three previous community college searches.