The University of Wyoming Board of Trustees has some help in the search for a new president.
California-based search firm Storbeck/Pimentel & Associates will be partially responsible for finding a replacement for current UW President Dick McGinity, who plans to step down next summer.
The final contract between the firm and the trustees was signed during a Monday meeting.
“I think (Storbeck/Pimentel) will be a right fit for what the university is trying to do,” Trustee Jeff Marsh said.
The group brings considerable experience in assisting educational institutions find employees for open senior positions, said Alberto Pimentel, one of the firm’s managing partners.
“Over the last 21 years, my full career, we’ve helped close to 350-400 institutions,” he said.
The Trustees recognized the value of that experience and decided Storbeck/Pimentel was best for the job, Marsh said.
“We’ve been very pleased with their responsiveness, their candor and their ability to go right out of the chute,” he said.
The search timeline previously set by the Trustees could be compressed, said Chris Boswell, UW vice president for Governmental and Community Affairs, with a new president possibly found by January. However, no formal timeline changes were made during Monday’s meeting.
“The concern is those (candidates’) names would be known — they would be public finalists — and to go what would be at least five weeks without taking any action after the announcement of finalist might cause one to lose some of the candidates,” Boswell said. “If you let the process sit for as much as a month and a half, the concern is you would lose candidates.”
Several other institutions will likely begin searches of their own in the coming weeks, Pimentel said, which could shrink UW’s search pool.
Institutions could also make counter-offers to a candidate if they determine a higher-ranking official was interested in other job opportunities.
While the timeline could be accelerated, the duration of the search really depends on the pool of candidates, Pimentel said.
“If we find ourselves in November or December and we’re still developing the pool, we know there are better candidates out there and we’re in the process of recruiting them and they just haven’t yet committed, we can slow it down a bit,” he said. “You don’t want to get to the wrong place quickly.”
Boswell emphasized a strong pool of candidates doesn’t necessarily mean a large number of candidates.
“I don’t think it’s so much an effort to make a large pool as it is an effort to make a strong pool,” Boswell said. “If you have 80 applicants and only 10 are particularly strong, to some degree, there’s not a lot of point to talk about the first 70.”
Other universities and colleges are also searching for new hires in upper positions, Pimentel said, but the University of Wyoming has several unique factors setting it apart.
“The University of Wyoming has a series of executive position attributes that make it very attractive,” he said. “First and foremost among them is the opportunity for someone to come in and set a new bold and dynamic vision for this institution.”
Keeping the current course with only possible opportunities to change in the future is the norm for other universities, Pimentel said, while UW has potential for growth and new direction under a new president.
“This university has all the right building blocks,” he said. “You have good, talented faculty, you have good schools, you have good programs. This is the opportunity for someone to come in and make some difficult decisions for sure, but really align the university with the future needs of the state and the country.
That’s going to be exciting for the right candidate.”
Storbeck/Pimentel is also set to work closely with Brad Mead, the search recruiter selected by the Trustees to add more local and state input into the process.
“I’m not usually fortunate enough to have someone with his knowledge and experience base working with me on a search,” Pimentel said. “He’s going to help me understand the nuances and culture of the University of Wyoming.”
In the end, Pimentel said he was excited his firm was selected by the UW Trustees.
“I was just thrilled to be invited to the presentations a couple weeks ago,” he said. “This is one of the rare chances for somebody to come and make a dramatic impact, not only in the university but the state.”
Those tasked with the search will begin the work soon, Marsh said.
“We anticipate having a meeting of the first search committee this August,” Marsh said. “We’re charging ahead.”