hobart and william smith colleges

A Message from Search Co-Chairs Andy McMaster ’74, P’09 and Cyndy Gelsthorpe Fish ’82


Dear Hobart and William Smith Colleges Campus Community,

We write to provide an update on the presidential search and to make all members of the campus community aware of upcoming dates for important listening sessions that will guide the presidential search and inform the creation of the presidential position profile.

As we communicated to the campus in June, the Board has appointed a Presidential Search Committee (PSC) that will conduct a national search and interview candidates to recommend to the Board of Trustees. The listing of the members of the PSC can be found at the end of this memo.

In tandem, the Board charged us with interviewing and recommending a national executive search firm for approval by the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees. After a thorough review of several national firms and after consultation with the PSC, Isaacson, Miller has been selected to assist the PSC and the Board of Trustees in managing the search process and actively recruiting a deep and diverse pool of candidates.

Isaacson, Miller is a preeminent firm serving academia in the recruitment of presidents, vice presidents and deans for some of the nation’s leading colleges and universities.  John Isaacson, the founder of Isaacson, Miller, and Kathryn Barry, a partner, will lead the search team. Both have extensive presidential search experience. Their clients include Union College, Hamilton College, Washington University in St. Louis, Dartmouth College, Duke University, and the University of Virginia, among many others.

Securing Isaacson, Miller means that Hobart and William Smith will be in the market as soon as feasibly possible and ahead of potential competition and conflicts with other higher education presidential searches.

As the search process gets underway, the PSC and the Isaacson, Miller team are eager to consult widely with HWS faculty, students, staff, trustees and other key stakeholders to learn your views about the future of the Colleges and the type of leader that can best carry HWS forward on its impressive trajectory. Our search consultants from Isaacson, Miller, will be on campus on July 24 and 25 for the first round of facilitated listening sessions open to all faculty, staff and students – refreshments will be served:

Open forum for FACULTY
Wednesday, July 25, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m., Froelich Hall, GCPA

Open forum for STUDENTS
Wednesday, July 25, 12:15 p.m. – 12:45 p.m., Froelich Hall, GCPA

Open forum for STAFF
Wednesday, July 25, 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m., Froelich Hall, GCPA

General Open forum*
(*open to all who may have scheduling conflicts)
Wednesday, July 25, 4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m., Froelich Hall, GCPA

We encourage anyone who can do so to attend one of the July sessions. However, in recognition of the summer schedule, we plan to offer virtual access on the 25th as well as a second round of listening sessions after the start of the fall semester.

Your participation in these sessions is essential in helping our search consultants learn about the role and gain an understanding of HWS’ culture, environment and the organizational context in which this President will operate. Your feedback will inform the work of the committee as well as the writing of the position profile that will be developed by the search committee and shared broadly with prospective candidates. In particular, we hope to hear your thoughts on the following:

  • In hiring this person, what will be the fundamental differences at HWS one year from now, three years from now and five years from now?
  • Are there more subjective or informal measures for determining the success of HWS’ next president?
  • Based on the objectives identified, what do you think are the qualifications and experience of an ideal candidate?  What is essential and what might be helpful?
  • What are the personal attributes most important for this role?

The Isaacson, Miller team will also ask for suggestions of people to contact in their outreach to build a strong and inclusive pool of candidates for this position. They will draw upon their own networks but want to make sure they tap into ours as well.

If you are unable to attend one of the July sessions and would like to share your views in advance of the September sessions, please feel free to share your feedback via email with the search consultants at HWSpresident@imsearch.com

We thank you for your continued engagement in this important process and look forward to working collaboratively to secure the future leadership of Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

Kind Regards,

Andy and Cyndy

Search Committee for the President of Hobart and William Smith Colleges:

The Board of Trustees:

  • Cynthia Gelsthorpe Fish ’82, Vice Chair, Presidential Search Committee Co-Chair
  • Andrew G. McMaster, Jr. ’74, P’09, Vice Chair, Presidential Search Committee Co-Chair
  • Aileen Diviney Gleason ’85
  • William T. Whitaker, Jr. ’73, L.H.D. ’97
  • Craig R. Stine ’81, P’17

The Colleges’ Administration:

  • Cathy Williams, Vice President for Communications and Marketing;
  • Deb Steward, William Smith Director of Athletics
  • Lou Guard ’07, Vice President and General Counsel

Elected Faculty:

  • Assistant Professor of Psychology Sara Branch,
  • Assistant Professor of Political Science Justin Rose,
  • Professor of Physics Donald Spector
  • Professor of Dance Cynthia Williams

Student Representatives:

  • Edens Fleurizard ’20, Hobart Junior Student Trustee
  • Caitlin E. Lasher ’19, William Smith Senior Student Trustee

Advisors to the Presidential Search Committee:

  • Sonya Williams, Vice President for Human Resources
  • Chrissy Bennett West ’94, Search Coordination and Logistics