Presidential Search Committee looks for a new President

Austin Hall
For the QC

On Feb. 14, Whittier College’s Presidential Search Committee announced through email that it had entered the final rounds of determining which of the 100+ potential presidential candidates will succeed President Sharon Herzberger when she retires at the end of the school year. The committee, consisting of several board members, trustees, and a single student representative, third-year Cristian Alcantara, said in their last update in September that — with the help of private consulting firm Witt/Kieffer, and students and faculty — they had compiled a comprehensive list detailing the responsibilities of the new Whittier College president. The chosen candidate for president will be announced in Spring 2018.

Sharon Herzberger

Sharon Herzberger

This update comes at a tumultuous time on campus, as recent allegations of discriminatory bias within the administration have left students wondering how the new president will deal with similar concerns in the future. Last week’s Associated Students of Whittier College (ASWC) Senate meeting began with Dean of Students Joel Perez holding a Q&A session to help assuage students’ concerns regarding these allegations. In response to a question about whether or not the new president will be informed of these issues, Dean Perez stated, “We will do our due diligence.” 

Members of the Committee directed questions through Office of Communications Director Ana Barraza, who relayed them to Whittier College Board of Trustees Chair and Presidential Search Committee Co-Chair Jim Brown ‘71. “The Search Committee is committed to finding candidates to recommend to the Board of Trustees who are deeply committed to the student experience along with the other qualities and attributes outlined in the leadership profile,” Brown said.

To ensure the compatibility of Whittier’s new president with its student body, Whittier has provided an opportunity for students to contribute to the Leadership Profile —  an online brochure that explains to potential presidents what they can expect from the College, and what will be expected of them — to assist the committee in helping bring student concerns to light through having forums.  “We held two student forums in September that were open to the entire student body,” said Brown, “and continued to integrate student input into the document thereafter. Student input has been valuable to ensuring a comprehensive profile.” 

Brown emphasizes that the first step of action will be to educate the new president on all different aspects of the College. “Any new president,” said Brown, “as one of their first actions, will spend meaningful time meeting with and listening to students, faculty, staff, and alumni. This process can take some time, so we would expect that a new president will create ways to have meaningful idea exchanges with all stakeholders in the fall.” 

Sharon Herzberger.jpg

Another aspect of the Leadership Profile mentions a search for increased revenue streams within the school. With 85 percent of Whittier’s students receiving some kind of finanial aid from the school, an increase of revenue streams would be beneficial to creating more scholarship opportunities and improving the overall quality of the campus. While no such plans are in the works at the moment, Brown said, “We can expect that candidates will share thoughts about what has worked at their current institution to the extent they aren’t breaking confidentiality.” 

As Whittier draws closer to the end of the school year, the community looks forward to the new opportunities that may come with a new president. “It will be an exciting time,” said Brown, “for all of us to work together to move this College forward with a new president.” For Herzberger’s plans and achievements, see page 10.