March 15, 2017

Search committee defines desired presidential traits, outlines next steps

By Shelby Brown–

The U of L presidential search committee wants the next president to be a strong leader and team player, as discussed in their March 15 meeting.

“You need someone who is very independent and not motivated by money,” trustee Nitin Sahney said. “Someone who can make tough decisions without worrying who to please in this community.”

Charles Denny called leadership the “x factor” in the presidential search.

“If we think in terms of momentum, this is a critical time,” Denny said. “This is the most important decision that must be made.”

James Rogers and John Schnatter want a candidate who is apolitical. Members also stressed the importance of transparency and problem-solving skills.

Staff Senate Chair Will Armstrong said he wants a president who is “truly” transformational and transparent.

“We don’t have to like what’s going on,” he said. “We have to understand why.”

“(We need) somebody that can inspire a diverse group of constituents to follow them, somebody that is a problem identifier and a problem solver,” CEO of Republic Bank and trustee Steve Trager said.

Trager also said U of L should do “whatever it takes to get the best person,” and they should be paid “above the market.”

Sandra Frazier, who cited her family’s long-time contributions, raised monetary concerns as well.

“We need a president who will be an outstanding fundraiser. They need to mend fences and build partnerships.”

Co-chairs David Grissom and Schnatter outlined the steps they will take in the coming months. Those include selecting a national search firm and crafting a leadership statement. The leadership statement will serve as a job description, encompassing all the traits expressed at the meeting.

The leadership statement will be crafted through a listening tour across the university.

Faculty Senate Chair Enid Trucios-Haynes raised concerns about selecting the national search firm and conducting the listening tour simultaneously. She wants to get information first then start the search.

Trucios-Haynes said she wanted to see “high ethical standards and cultural excellence, shared governance and academic freedom” in U of L’s next president. She is concerned running the listening tour and the search simultaneously will result in loss of voices.

“We (the search committee) are not the only constituents at the university,” Trucios-Haynes said. “It can’t happen as quickly as we might like.”

Grissom disagreed, saying “there’s no reason not to” proceed with both the search and the listening tour simultaneously.

“We want to get the very best man or woman in America to be the president of this organization, this university. It’s not very complicated. That’s it,” Grissom said.

Grissom praised Interim President Greg Postel’s performance and said Postel will continue to serve until a permanent president is hired. Grissom said it is “unrealistic” that a candidate will be found and hired by fall semester.

“I think it’s going to take 12-18 months to have a new president here, realistically,” he said.

The listening tour is scheduled to start soon. Two resolutions were brought before the committee to establish the two subcommittees for the search and listening tour. Both were approved.

“We’re going do the right thing and get the right person and we’re going to take Louisville to a great vision and a great future,” Schnatter said.

Photo by Shelby Brown / The Louisville Cardinal

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