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Overview

AGB Search follows a comprehensive process tailored to each search through careful collaboration with the board, president, and other key decision makers. The needs and timeline of each institution drive our process. We take our role representing you seriously, and we commit to recruiting a well-prepared, diverse candidate pool that exceeds community expectations. 

Higher education institutions need proven leaders who have been able to deliver on bottom line responsibilities while setting a vision for an aspirational future. Our consultants possess the experience and skill to recruit such candidates, asking the right questions to assess fit, completing meaningful due diligence, and advising trustees, presidents and other decision makers on candidate selection.  

In our consultant team, you find experienced former administrators with firsthand knowledge of the higher education environment and vast experience in recruiting and vetting prospective leaders.  

EXPERIENCE 

AGB Search is a team of 35 consultants, supported by experienced researchers and office staff, who are committed to the next generation of higher education leaders. We bring firsthand experience leading institutions and mentoring future leaders to our clients, which include independent and public universities of all sizes, state university systems, and higher education support organizations. 

An affiliate of the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB), AGB Search has assisted over 500 full-time executive and interim searches at 325 institutions and organizations, including for college and university presidents, chancellors, and system heads; provosts, vice presidents, deans, and other cabinet-level positions; and CEOs of state coordinating boards, institutionally related foundations, and higher education associations. 

OUR COMMITMENT AND GUARANTEE 

We are committed to our work. If an institution is unable to identify a candidate of choice within the initial timeline, we will continue the search process until a successful appointment is made. Furthermore, if the candidate appointed leaves office anytime during the first year, we will return to assist in a follow-up search on an expenses-only basis.  

OUR PROCESS 

Higher education is a truly collaborative enterprise; executive search must be as well. As a partner with institutional leaders, we will lead the following steps in support of the executive search process.

  1. Organize the Search and Research Leadership Needs 
    The consultant visits campus to meet and interact with key decision makers to:
       • Ensure that the consultant is well informed about the institution and position;
       • Give appropriate constituents a chance to weigh in on the future priorities of leadership; and
       • Enable the consultant and search committee to produce a search profile and advertisement that will attract candidates with the skills, experience, and vision to excel in the role.  
     
  2. Recruit a Strong, Talented Pool of Candidates
    The consultant focuses on the recruitment of a fresh pool of candidates, tailored specifically to your leadership needs at the time, through multiple channels, including:
       • Direct connections through AGB Search consultants;
       • Call for nominations via our extensive database;
       • Advertising in appropriate online and print publications; and
       • Reach beyond the academy for certain positions. 
     
  3. Screen and Evaluate Candidates 
    The consultant conducts initial screenings of candidates to assess the pool as it forms. He or she works with committee chair or hiring officer near the end of the recruitment phase on a plan for the review of applications. The decision makers meet with the consultant to create a short list of consensus candidates to advance, followed by initial background checks. 

    The consultant works with a staff liaison to plan and schedule each round of interviews, preparing the committee as appropriate. During semifinalist interviews, which typically take place off campus, the consultant manages the flow of candidates to assure continued anonymity, and guides the committee through discussion of the candidates. The outcome is the choice of two to four finalists, who are invited to campus for more extensive rounds of interviews.
     
  4. Conduct Meaningful Due Diligence 
    Due diligence takes place throughout a search. Once the short list is established, we call the listed references as a way for the committee to get to know the candidates’ strengths and potential. AGB Search conducts Nexis and Court-Link reviews of each semifinalist to identify any issues that may need to be addressed. When the finalists are identified, we immediate engage an international background-checking firm to conduct driving, criminal, civil, and credit checks, as well as verification of all employment, academic degrees and credentials. The consultant also performs “off-list” reference calls on finalists, contacting a targeted list of individuals at the candidates’ current and past places of employment. 
  5. Assist in Negotiations  
    The consultant gathers compensation and other expectations from the most promising candidates as the search progresses to inform the eventual negotiation with the candidate of choice.

PRESIDENTIAL TRANSITION  

Our approach to presidential search is built on the recognition that transition begins when the incumbent announces her or his intention to leave. That’s why AGB Search is the only firm that offers to assist in presidential transition planning as part of our process, and why we stay with our clients after the appointment. Experience has shown us that a well-executed plan prepares the institution for transition and engagement, allows the incumbent to move gracefully into the next phase of life, and sets the stage for the new president’s tenure—not only during the whirlwind introductory phase, but also for longer term effectiveness.  

A good transition plan will pay special attention to the interim time between appointment and taking office, as well as the first six months in office. This is the entry phase, when impressions are formed, important relationships are (or are not) established, the learning curve is steepest, and irreparable mistakes are most easily made. Orientation and support of the president-elect begins during the final stages of the search process itself by beginning to introduce her or him to the institution, the priorities of the position, and the institution’s relations with the larger world.  

Our consultants take an active role in this process from the beginning as we assess the institution’s needs in the pre-search study. We prompt the board chair and the search chair to think ahead throughout the search process to communicate effectively with constituents and anticipate potential roadblocks. We also assist in developing strategies to support, prepare, and ensure that a new appointee becomes familiar with and immersed in the full range of responsibilities he or she will be expected to assume.  

Ultimately, successful leadership transition is the responsibility of the board of trustees. It is perhaps the most important, and most often overlooked, investment the board can make in the advancement of her or his institution.