With current president Dr. Patrick Leahy departing Wilkes at the end of July to take on the president role at Monmouth University, it brings up several questions.
The obvious first is: Who will be Wilkes University’s seventh president?
Some of the other questions include: Will the hire be internal? Will internal candidates even be considered? What goals should be put first and foremost in the next president?
One thing cannot be understated: The process for next presidential hire for Wilkes needs to be open and transparent.
The future of the university is at stake in the next hire. While every presidential hire might be deemed “important,” the seventh president of the university has several challenges ahead.
It is to be noted that the successful “Gateway to the Future” campaign is scheduled to run through 2020. While it’s important to note the university president is not the only person involved with these campaigns, they play a significant role in their development, with Leahy serving as chair for the previous committee.
Leahy and his team have been extremely successful in their most recent campaign, but what’s next? One of Leahy’s best taglines was: “There has never been a better time to be a student at Wilkes University.”
The plan for Wilkes beyond 2020 appears to be developing for now, but Leahy’s successor will have to hit the ground running. Even if the position is filled in August, the new university president will be tasked with working on the next progressive campaign sooner rather than later.
It’s no secret that strong universities are usually ahead of the curve, which Wilkes has been able to accomplish under the most recent comprehensive plan.
Leahy’s successes are likely almost unfair to compare to a future candidate, as Leahy has had an extremely vibrant seven year period during his time at Wilkes. As his journey comes to a close, Leahy has had a lasting impact on the university, which has undergone major physical changes over the last seven years.
With mounting pressure on the overall cost of college, how will the new president respond in that regard? After all, according to the university fact book, Wilkes students have seen tuition increase at least three percent each year over the last decade with no end in sight. Wilkes is certainly not the only institution to have these type of increases occur, but it is definitely a valid question if Wilkes intends on staying ahead of the curve.
There are these and many other important issues facing Wilkes University as a whole. That is why we are calling for transparency in this important selection process.
Open and transparent meaning a general timeline of the interview process shared with the campus community. Open and transparent meaning finalist candidates share their ideas with the campus community.
In the last presidential search, Wilkes launched sites such as wilkes.edu/PresedentialSearch and wilkes.edu/Candidates. The university also hosted site visits with the three finalists to replace Tim Gilmour in February 2012 prior to Leahy’s eventual selection. We are calling on the university and the board of trustees to ensure a similar process will occur.
At the end of the day, this piece might leave you with more questions than answers, but these are some of the questions we will be asking in the near future.