Message to Alumni from UC Board of Trustees Chair

Rob RichardsonThis is the fifth in a series of columns by University of Cincinnati Board Chair Rob Richardson, Jr., CEAS ’02, Law ’05. In February at the age of 37, UC’s former Student Body President became the youngest person to chair the board of trustees in UC’s history and the youngest currently in such a role among the nation’s research-intensive public universities. His board term began in 2008 and runs through 2016.



On the Presidential Search

November 29, 2016

Replacing a university president always represents an enormous institutional opportunity, and so it is for UC as we seek our next permanent president. A comprehensive search process has been underway for several months. As chair of the formal search committee, I’m pleased with our progress.

This particular presidential search comes as we prepare for UC’s bicentennial in 2019 and the transition into our Third Century. In continuing our ascent among the nation’s top universities, our future is incredibly bright. Still, our new leader must navigate an array of unique challenges in order to leverage our many advantages.

Identifying UC’s next president is a team effort reflective of our inclusive and collaborative nature. With such a broad range of constituents, we held more than a dozen community listening sessions and conducted multiple surveys to garner candid opinions from stakeholders throughout the colleges, the regional business community, our health care enterprise, the student and alumni bodies, and more. Their collective feedback has shaped and aided the search immeasurably.

We received a variety of responses about the personal characteristics our new president should have: Engaging, personable, a strong communicator … Passionate, transparent and honest … Doesn’t have to be as active on social media as President Ono, but does need to be connected and available … Wants to hear and internalize the student perspective … Visionary, strategic thinker.

We asked about preferred professional characteristics, and learned they should be: Adept at leading complex organizations … Knowledgeable about higher education and the academic environment, ideally in public and/or urban institutions … A record of research and innovation … Proven fundraiser … Able to lead and manage through change or crisis … Proficient as the ambassador for all aspects of the university’s brand.

We also asked about the sort of background a great candidate might have: Academic and/or administrative leadership … Health care, science, research … Business, tech industry … Fundraising … Government experience.

We have worked hard to empower participants during this feedback stage because we all share ownership in this vital selection. Such thoughtful, inclusive and candid conversation won’t end with just a presidential appointment; we expect to continue regular dialogues as we move forward after the new president is seated.

Many candidates will look good on paper, yet we’ll be watching and listening closely for the emotional intelligence that is so central to the president’s job. Communication will be key: He or she must be able to make authentic connections, absorbing input and motivating people to become strategically aligned with each other and our institutional vision. A presidential conversation with a fellow leader in the local business community is different from conversing with an undergraduate, professor, cancer researcher, football fan, member of the media, parent of a prospective student, or would-be donor. UC’s president must be able to handle each interaction well, listening with intensity and articulating with clarity.

We hope to find and appoint this person by early 2017. The process will continue to advance, blending the transparency required of a public institution with the confidentiality necessary for a search at this level.

On behalf of the Search Committee, thanks to all who have helped thus far. I hope you share my excitement for all that awaits this outstanding university and the members of the UC family.

Robert E. Richardson, Jr.
UC Board of Trustees


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