Student for Presidential Search

Sophomore Kaitlyn Willgohs has been chosen as the student representative of the presidential search committee. She feels her long-term interest in Eckerd made her stand out. 

Sophomore Kaitlyn Willgohs, a psychology and animal studies major, was picked from a group of eight firstyears, sophomores and juniors for the Presidential Search Committee. The search process itself is also right on schedule.

Willgohs stressed that she wants to capture Eckerd’s student voices while on the committee.

“Eckerd is a place I hold very near and dear to my heart,” Willgohs said. “I wanted to come here since eighth grade, so I’ve kinda seen it morph into the college it is today.”

Willgohs also considered the future of the college and herself with her decision to be on the search committee.

“I knew this was a big step in the college’s history and I really wanted to be a part of it,” Willgohs said. “After I graduate, I really want to pursue my doctorate and I hope to be able to work back here after. So I was saying that the new president, even though he or she would make a difference to me as a student right now, they could also be a potential colleague or boss.”

Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees and Chair of the Search Committee Ian Johnson ‘89 said Willgohs has shown her interest in the college during her short time on the search.

“She is coming in as a student representative in a committee that includes trustees, faculty and executive staff,” Johnson said. “It could be for anybody a kind of intimidating crew. She came in with a level of confidence that was very much appreciated. She fit in well as part of the team.”

According to Johnson, they have a thoughtful and diligent process in place, in terms of the timeline put forth, the search criteria and the selection of members of the committee.

“I would say so far so good, we’ve been pleased with work we’ve done, knowing the most important stages, soliciting candidates and interviewing them are still in front of us,” Johnson said.

Johnson also said the student, faculty and staff views have been relatively consistent. The main input has been not losing the trajectory and identity of Eckerd.

“[Students are] interested in seeing that the culture of Eckerd doesn’t change dramatically with the new president. The concept of who Eckerd is, who the students we attract and mentor are, interactions between the students, faculty and staff, that whole environment that is Eckerd,” Johnson said. “Really it’s about the magic of Eckerd. So the candidate we attract, and ultimately choose, [must] understand what makes Eckerd, Eckerd.”

The committee collected these views from the Eckerd community in online surveys and on-campus forums held by the consulting firm Academic Search. According to Johnson, the more input they get, the better the process and outcome will be.

The present stage is building a leadership profile and position advertisement for the president’s role. The leadership profile includes an in depth document for candidates that says who Eckerd is, what we value, the college’s history and identifying the leadership agenda, or the top anticipated priorities for the next president and prefered qualifications. It will be finalized and approved by the Board of Trustees in May during commencement weekend.

During the summer, Academic Search will post the profile on various search sites that are the standard for academic searches. Johnson said the search consultants will also network to personally recruit and build up the pool of candidates, meeting with possible candidates or getting names for others.

“[Academic Search] operates as a true partner with us. That’s the way we feel and they echo that,” Johnson said. “They are truly getting Eckerd, is how I would quote it. They are getting what is so special and unique about this place.”

Johnson said the committee’s goal is to be as inclusive as possible, but there is a level confidentiality. Candidates that are currently in positions, such as college presidents, don’t want the world to know that they are applying because they do not want to jeopardize those current positions.

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