A Message from Trustee Coit 'Chip' Blacker ’72 and Dean Wendy Sternberg

Dear Oxy Community:

As Board Chair Susan Mallory ’76 M’78 announced in her January 27 message, the search for Oxy’s next president will begin this Spring semester. The Board is committed to a thorough and inclusive process, and to keeping the community as a whole apprised of our process and progress. To this end, we want to provide the first in a series of community updates. While today’s note is focused on the composition and charge of the committee, the basic process we will follow, and the timeline for the search, we expect to provide details in the coming weeks regarding opportunities for community input.

Search Committee Composition

Board Chair Mallory has appointed the two of us to co-chair the presidential search committee. We are honored to lead this important task, and our track record of working together on the board’s Academic Affairs and Technology Committee will serve as a strong foundation for this important work.

An effective committee must be inclusive, and remain at a size that is manageable and effective. In addition to the two of us as co-chairs, the Board has determined that the search committee membership will include:

  • Five trustees

  • Five faculty members (including the Faculty Council President)

  • VP and Chief Operating Officer, Amos Himmelstein

  • VP for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, Rob Flot

  • Two student representatives, nominated by ASOC

  • Representative from the administration/staff

In addition, current Board Chair Susan Mallory ’76 M’78 and Board Chair-Elect Steve Rountree ‘71 will serve as advisors to the committee in an ex-officio capacity.

Marsha Schnirring, secretary of the College and interim assistant dean of the library/center for digital liberal arts, will provide administrative support to the committee.

Search Process

The search process will generate a high-quality and diverse pool of candidates who will be evaluated fairly by a committee that includes a wide range of perspectives drawn from all College constituencies.

The search committee’s task will be to arrive at a final group of two to four candidates that will be recommended to the Board, unranked, but with the Committee’s rationale for recommending them. The Board will then make a final selection subject, of course, to the chosen candidate agreeing to accept the position.

The committee will be open and transparent to the greatest extent possible, providing community updates and sharing information about the process. However, we will need to take seriously our obligation to protect the privacy and confidentiality of candidates. Unlike most searches at the College that involve finalist visits to campus and open discussions with campus constituencies, it may be necessary for finalists in this search to have a more limited exposure to the community, due to concerns about confidentiality. And as is now standard practice in searches such as these, members of the search committee will be asked to sign a confidentiality agreement.

Because Oxy does not have the internal capacity to mount a search of this scale and importance unaided, the Board has decided to engage an external search consultant with demonstrated success in identifying and developing a diverse pool of qualified candidates. Once a search firm is hired, we will provide an update.


Our current timeline is described below, and is subject to change once the committee is fully staffed.

Spring 2019: Preparing for the search

In this phase of the process, the committee is named, and the Board engages with a search consultant. The search committee solicits community input on the desired personal qualities, experience, skills, and character of the next president. A position description is drafted.

Summer 2019: Building the applicant pool

During the summer, the position is advertised and the pool of candidates is built.

Fall 2019: Applicant review and interviews

During the Fall semester, the committee works to narrow down the pool to a set of semi-finalists who meet with the committee for in-person interviews held off-site. The committee then selects a slate of finalists. The finalists participate in further discussions with the committee, trustees, and other members of the community that the committee deems appropriate and necessary. A final decision is made, and an offer extended.

We hope to make an announcement about the College’s 16th President by the end of the calendar year.

We will be in touch soon with further updates, once the search committee is fully assembled. We look forward to the work ahead.


With best wishes,

Coit 'Chip' Blacker ’72, trustee and professor emeritus, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Stanford University

Wendy Sternberg, vice president for academic affairs, and dean of the college