Regents choose firm for University of Northern Iowa presidential search

Parker Executive Search was not an option

  • Photo

The Iowa Board of Regents is going in a different direction for its upcoming search for a new University of Northern Iowa president, announcing on Thursday it will use AGB Search to facilitate the process.

For the board’s most recent presidential searches at University of Iowa, Iowa State University, and UNI, it used Parker Executive Search to assist with the selection. But Parker didn’t apply to assist with the impending UNI search to replace Bill Ruud, who left in July to become the 19th president in Marietta College.

AGB, of Washington, D.C., was among four firms that did apply. The board’s other options included Academic Search, of Washington, D.C., Greenwood/Asher & Associates, Inc., of Miramar Beach, Fla., and RPA, Inc., of Williamsport, Penn.

The board’s contract with AGB has it paying a fixed fee $85,000 for its services, which include developing a position description, identifying candidates, communicating with prospects, lining up interviews, and conducting background checks.

That total does not include expenses, which — according to the firm’s proposal — could bring the total cost to $110,000.

AGB was not the lowest bidder — American Search proposed a flat fee of $70,000. But the other two firms proposed payments totaling one-third of the selected president’s first-year compensation. Ruud, when he left, was making $357,110 — meaning a similarly-paid new hire would require the board pay either of the other firms more than $119,000.

AGB’s $85,000 fee also is below the $90,000 the board paid Parker for its help finding Ruud in 2012. The board paid a $95,000 fee for Parker’s assistance in the ISU presidential search that landed Steven Leath in 2011, and it paid $200,000 for Parker’s help in last year’s UI search that netted President Bruce Harreld. Those totals do not include expenses.

Parker came under fire for its involvement in the Harreld search after The Gazette reported inaccuracies on his resume — including that the firm he said he managed, Executive Strategy LLC, of Avon, Colo., was not registered with the Secretary of State’s Office and had been dissolved in its state of origin, Massachusetts.

Critics also slammed Parker and the UI search committee for the lack of diversity among the four named finalists — they were all white men. Committee members have said they went to great lengths to find a diverse pool and didn’t violate any laws.

Regents President Pro Tem Katie Mulholland, who is leading this new search at UNI, said she looks forward to working with AGB “on this critically important hire.”

“AGB has a proven track record of assisting with successful searches in a timely and efficient manner,” Mulholland said in a statement.

The board hasn’t determined whether the UNI search will be “open” — meaning the names of finalists will be made public — or closed, meaning the board will choose the new president without public input, according to board spokesman Josh Lehman.

It also hasn’t announced a timeline for the search, although Mulholland has said she and regents Executive Director Robert Donley are consulting with constituents about a search committee that likely will involve faculty, staff, students, and other community members.

AGB’s proposal included a “suggested” timeline that has the search committee first meeting in August and a final selection coming by the end of January. According to that proposed timeline, the search committee through September will plan and organize the search and in October start recruiting.

In November, according to the AGB timeline, the search committee will screen and evaluate candidates and begin interviewing candidates and making recommendations in December.

Candidate visits to campus would happen in January, after which the board would make a final selection.

As part of the board’s contract with AGB, the firm is responsible for ensuring candidate confidentiality, guiding implementation of a transition plan for the new president, and complying with equal opportunity laws.

Give us feedback

Have you found an error or omission in our reporting? Tell us here.
Do you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.