A search committee has met to begin its effort to replace Fort Lewis College President Dene Thomas, who will retire at the end of the 2017-18 school year.
The 12-person search committee met for the first time Thursday morning to discuss the timeline with Lucy Leske, a representative for Witt/Kieffer, an executive recruiting firm based in Oak Brook, Illinois. It will assist the college in its search.
“Our process is to whittle down the applicants to 10 or 12 candidates, interview them and then recommend to the Board of Trustees a number of those individuals,” said Richard Kaufman, committee chairman and trustee. “There is no magic number, but the board wants to see more than one name recommended.”
Leske said the search firm’s job is to offer guidance, rather than tell the committee who to recommend.
“We are here to work with you to make sure the search is successful,” she said. “We are not here to tell you what to do or who to choose. You can take or ignore our advice. What we do provide, and what our deliverable is, is to ensure you have a robust process that has integrity.”
Witt/Kieffer will review candidates to recommend to the committee, which will then narrow those applicants to a small handful for the Board of Trustees to interview.
“We make sure there are candidates in that pool of people that are fabulous,” Leske said. “We do aggressive recruiting because this is a competitive situation. We want to make sure you are successful so that you have a smooth transition in the spring.”
Committee member Sue Kraus, professor of psychology, said it is important to have a president who will improve morale across campus.
“We want someone who loves this place as much as the faculty and the students,” she said. “We do really cool stuff here, and we need someone who will be really proud of that. The president sets the tone and that’s really important.”
Student and committee member Tara Abrams said some students worry the Native American tuition waiver, which President Thomas made a priority to retain during her tenure, may not be continued under a new president.
The committee will meet again Oct. 30 to review the advertisement for the position before making it public.
A website has been created that details the search process, and it will be periodically updated with the latest news about the search.
The new president will be hired in the spring, and his or her term will begin July 1, 2018.
President Thomas was hired in March 2010 as the eighth president of the four-year institution and the first woman to serve in the role. She previously served as president of Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho, where she had worked for nine years.