February 7, 2019

Why the Presidential Search is Confidential

From the Desk of: Lisa Stromberg and Miriam Katowitz
Co-Chairs, Presidential Search Committee

Dear Goucher Campus Community,

We have recently heard that there are questions regarding our confidential search process for the Goucher Presidential search. More specifically, there have been questions about why we are doing this search confidentially when the last search, conducted six years ago, was an open search with a full campus visit. A confidential search means that there will not be an open presentation or campus visit. In fact, in a confidential search the potential candidates are known only to the presidential search committee members (who have signed a confidentiality agreement) and to the board of trustees who makes the final decision (and are also required to maintain confidentiality).

The reason for the change from an open search to a confidential search is due to a shift in the nature of the recruitment process. Interestingly, the search process format was evolving even during our last presidential search. Goucher, at the time, was among the few private colleges still conducting an open search. Moving forward, there are even fewer private colleges and universities doing open searches because it limits the candidate pool to individuals who are comfortable with everyone knowing they are applying for a position.

Before we launched our presidential search, we were told by all of the search firms we interviewed that an open search may not deliver the best candidates for us to consider as it might inhibit the very best ones from applying. A number of public universities have also moved in the direction of a confidential search process for this very reason. As a campus community, we need to ensure that Goucher has the most robust pool of candidates possible, and we certainly do not want to be in a situation where one of the best candidates decides to pull out of our search process because their name becomes public. Potential candidates are likely to be leaders in current positions, and it very well could be detrimental to their future careers if it were known that they are looking for a new position and then ultimately are not offered the role. This is one of the top reasons why candidates often do not participate in an open search.

The Goucher presidential search committee by design includes campus constituents from the various stakeholder groups—students, faculty, staff, alumnae/i, administrators and board members—in order to ensure that all views are heard throughout the search process, and ultimately, in making a final candidate recommendation to the full board of trustees.

We hope that this information will help in answering the question of why we are conducting a confidential search as well as what to expect from a confidential search process. For more information please see the Presidential Search Committee Website.

All the best,

Lisa and Miriam
Co-chairs of the Presidential Search Committee