Northern Arizona University President John Haeger gave more details about the search for his replacement Tuesday during a campus forum at the High Country Conference Center.
Haeger announced last month that he would be stepping down after nearly 12 years as president of NAU when his current three-year contract expires in June 2015. At the forum Tuesday, he said the Arizona Board of Regents has already started the process of finding a new president.
“They are going to start sooner rather than later, partly at my urging,” Haeger said.
ABOR approved guidelines for conducting the NAU presidential search on Thursday. Included are requirements for the board to develop a list of qualifications, establish a search committee, put together a pool of applicants, narrow down that pool to a field of candidates, conduct interviews and, finally, pick the new university president.
ABOR posted a request for proposals on its website Wednesday in order to find a private consulting firm that will assist the board during the search process. Haeger said it is important for NAU to move quickly.
“There are a ton of presidential searches going on,” Haeger said. “I represent a generation of university presidents, all of whom are going to retire at the same time, so it’s going to be highly competitive to get a new president into the institution.”
Once ABOR hires the search firm, it will put together a search committee that will be led by ABOR Chair Rick Myers and Regent LuAnn Leonard. Haeger said that committee will consist mostly of ABOR members.
“It’ll be a small committee,” Haeger said. “It’ll have a large number of regents on it, and then it will have a few people representing the campus at large, but there’s not going to be 25 people conducting the search. It’ll be very, very tight.”
Haeger stressed that ABOR would be solely responsible for selecting and hiring the new NAU president, but he said he will be very involved in the process.
“I have really great relationships with the board, so they’ve already said that they’re going to seek my advice on exactly that,” Haeger said. “We’ve started the talk about characteristics of the next NAU president.”
Haeger said ABOR should find someone from a university that is similar to NAU.
“It has to be somebody who comes from one of our peers and that understands an institution like this,” Haeger said. “If they hired somebody from a Pac-12 institution, they couldn’t survive in this environment. Pac-12 institutions have a ton of money. We don’t have a ton of money at this institution, so you have to operate very differently.”
Haeger also listed two other recommendations he will make to ABOR.
“We also want somebody who really understands undergraduate residential education, who’s not going to say, ‘Well, we need bigger classrooms so we can put 200 people in them.’ That’s not going to work,” Haeger said. “Also, I think we have thrived because we have such good relationships with community colleges, so it’s got to be someone comfortable working in a partnership environment.”
Haeger invited people in the NAU community to make suggestions about what they want to see in a new university president. He said he would pass any advice on to ABOR. The official search is expected to begin at the beginning of 2014. Haeger will remain president of NAU until a replacement is hired.
“I’ve told the board that as soon as you get a president, then I’m ready to leave,” Haeger said.
ABOR is required to establish a website to keep the public informed about the search process. That site is expected to be up and running in the next few weeks.
Michelle McManimon can be reached at MMcManimon@azdailysun.com or 556-2261.