A New Chapter at Adams State

(07-31-2014)

Letter from Trustee Paul Farley
Chair, Presidential Search Committee

Earlier this month, Adams State University officially began the search for a new president. It's an auspicious time, and a daunting task: after a decade of distinguished leadership, David Svaldi has decided to call it a career, and will retire next summer. His tenure has been marked by the growth and beautification of the campus; a commitment to academic excellence; fiscal responsibility; and of course the blossoming of a local state college into a university with a far-reaching regional and national presence. It may be asking too much for someone to replace President Svaldi, but we nonetheless must find the right candidate to succeed him.

Adams State Trustee Paul Farley

In January, the Board of Trustees did two things to begin the first phase of the process. First, the Board established a search committee comprised of trustees, faculty, administrators, professional and classified staff, students, community and foundation leaders. The Board charged the committee with analyzing the University's current needs and future challenges, creating a position announcement, and overseeing a national search for candidates. Our goal is to give a list of qualified candidates to the Board of Trustees by the end of the year, so the Board can name a new President next spring. It's as fine and committed a group of people as I have ever worked with, and it's been encouraging how everyone has worked to set aside individual or group interests and work together for what is best for the University. You can find out who they are by looking at our search web site, link at bottom of page.

Second, the Board retained a search consulting firm to assist the committee in carrying out its responsibilities. Pyramind, LLC is a woman-owned business with executive search experience in the public sector, including higher education. The President and CEO, Hope Johnson, serves as a board member of George Mason University College of Education and Human Development, and previously served on the Advisory Council for the School of Leadership Development at the University of North Carolina. The Project Director, Dr. Camila Alire, was born and raised in the San Luis Valley, and is a graduate of Adams State University. With a Bachelor of Arts degree in secondary education and a Doctorate in Education, she has worked in Colorado and New Mexico most of her career. She has held dean positions, worked closely with university provosts and presidents, and sat on or chaired various university advisory committees and task forces.

As you can see, we've got a great foundation in place: a dedicated group of University and community leaders, assisted by national executive search professionals. So what will the next president of Adams State University need to succeed? What will the ideal candidate look like?

Working closely with our consultants, the search committee has produced a detailed position announcement, trying to capture all of those qualities the next President will need to lead the University into its second century. In general terms, he or she will need to be an effective administrator; an academic leader; skilled interpersonally and politically; and experienced and effective in financial development. This will require a sound strategic vision, an ongoing commitment to academic excellence, an understanding of the unique mission of the University, and an appreciation of the culture and traditions of the community. This may seem like a tall order, but in the rapidly changing world of higher education, we need to be driving the truck, instead of running behind it trying to catch things as they fall off of the tailgate.

Where will we find such a person? Well, we are looking high and low, coast to coast. The person may be a career academic, or a business leader, but it will be someone with significant accomplishments in the public or private sectors. They may be on the eastern seaboard, or in the intermountain west, or right here in the San Luis Valley. We have no prejudgments, no assumptions, and - to be very clear - no preselected or "insider" candidate. We just need someone who can fill the mighty big shoes David Svaldi will be leaving behind, and who will work tirelessly to make Adams State a great university.

If you know of such a person, please have them contact us through the presidential search web site. In the meantime, we will keep you posted through periodic updates on our "search news" (link at bottom of page). Also, if you have any comments or suggestions about the search process, please feel free to contact me by email. I will make the personal effort to respond to every message, and to make sure your voice is heard. Together, we can ensure a bright future of growth, achievement, and distinction for the entire Adams State community.