Board of Visitors

Presidential Search Committee Meeting March 11, 2022

The Presidential Search Committee met on March 11, 2022 at 9:30 a.m. in the Boardroom of the David Student Union with Rector of the Board of Visitors and Presidential Search Committee Chair Robert R. Hatten, Esq. presiding.

Present from the Committee

  • Mr. William R. Ermatinger
  • Robert R. Hatten, Esq., Chair and Rector
  • Ms. Maria Herbert
  • Dr. Rachel Holland
  • Mr. C. Bradford Hunter
  • Mr. Steven S. Kast
  • Mr. Michael Martin
  • Ms. Terri M. McKnight, CPA
  • Mr. N. Scott Millar
  • Mr. Hayden Olsen
  • Dr. Tatiana Rizova
  • Ms. Jamilia Shipman
  • Lindsey Carney Smith, Esq.
  • Ms. Judy Ford Wason
  • Mr. Alan Witt

Absent from the Committee

  • Ms. Christy T. Morton

From the University

  • Mrs. Sherry Crotts, Executive Administrative Assistant
  • Mrs. Amie Dale, Executive Director of University Events and Special Projects
  • Mrs. Jennifer Latour, Vice President for Finance and Planning and CFO
  • Ms. Kelley Ann McGee-Sousa, University Storyteller/Writer
  • Mr. Andrew B. Crawford, Chief Information Officer

From the Office of the Attorney General

  • Deb Love, Esq., Senior Assistant Attorney General and Chief, Education Section

Others in Attendance

  • Mr. Martin Baker, Managing Partner, Buffkin / Baker
  • Ms. Sierra Jenkins, Virginia Media: The Virginian-Pilot, Daily Press
  • Mr. Joshua A. Grimes, Captains Log

At 9:30 a.m. Chair Hatten called the meeting to order and welcomed everyone present.

Chair Hatten called for a motion to approve the minutes of the January 28, 2022 meeting. Ms. Herbert provided the motion, which was seconded by Mr. Ermatinger and the minutes were approved by unanimous vote of the Committee.

Chair Hatten reported that Mr. Baker had been in contact with a remarkable number of people since the Presidential Search Committee last met. Chair Hatten said that the search committee was anxious to hear the feedback Mr. Baker received from students, staff, community members, donors, board members and parents. He also stated that Mr. Baker’s outreach and effort to receive input from the CNU Community has been outstanding and asked Mr. Baker to update the committee on what he learned from this process.

Mr. Baker reported that of the 571 contacts made:

  • 214 participated in the online survey;
  • 51 participated in one-on-one interviews; and
  • 306 participated in the listening sessions.

Mr. Baker affirmed that to have 571 people involved in the feedback process was incredible and a staggering response that he personally had not seen before which speaks to the institution, engagement and collective importance of this presidential search.

Mr. Baker reported that he has taken the collective feedback and put together the most common themes that were developed through the course of the meetings, the conversations and the online surveys. The committee was asked to complete an online survey by the end of the day on Tuesday, March 15, 2022 to rank what they considered to be the priority for each of the themes.

Mr. Baker presented each of the categories and highlighted, in no particular order, the most consistent themes based on the feedback and opened the conversation up to discussion among the committee members. The themes highlighted by Mr. Baker and outlined below were mentioned in the feedback process 45-60 times; whereas, other themes (full list posted on BoardDocs) were mentioned 10-20 times. Mr. Baker considered the constituent groups to be exceptionally aligned across the board including faculty, students, board members, alumni and community members.

Question #1: What do you see as the greatest opportunities for the University?

  • Expand geographic reach and branding. Create broader appeal, while building upon current reputation
  • Recruiting, retaining, and supporting diverse students, faculty and staff
  • Staying true to the teaching mission
  • Student success and undergraduate research
  • Position and relationships in the community
  • Economic development impact
  • Broaden industry partnerships

Question #2: What do you see as the most pressing challenges facing the University?

  • Enrollment and future decline of college-aged students
  • Competition from other institutions in Virginia
  • Online competition
  • Lack of diversity among students and faculty
  • Endowment
  • Funding
  • Funds for student scholarships
  • Tuition/Affordability. Rising costs of education
  • Value proposition for a four-year residential, liberal arts education

Question #3: What are the most immediate priorities the new President will need to address?

  • Establish their own identity as new President
  • Develop open lines of communication with faculty and enhance culture of shared governance
  • Quickly prove to be trustworthy. Authentic. Build relationships rooted in trust
  • Identifying and defining what the next level opportunities are for CNU, and turning it into action while staying true to who CNU is
  • Fundraising, including building a more diverse donor base and expanding pipeline of donors. Build the advancement office
  • Diversity and inclusion
  • Alumni engagement, particularly those who attended before President Trible’s appointment
  • Develop relationships with the general assembly and advocate for support from the state (Commonwealth)
  • Develop strategy to increase the visibility of CNU beyond Virginia

Question #4: What professional attributes, experiences, and qualifications should the next President possess to be most successful in this role?

  • Political acumen
  • Strong communication skills, including writing skills
  • Relationship builder (externally and internally)
  • Fundraising capacity
  • Demonstrated leadership experience, including budget and personnel management
  • Higher education experience and knowledge of the academy a plus
  • Past history with liberal arts institution

Question #5 What additional feedback do you wish to share?

  • Embraces and preserves the mission, vision and culture of CNU
  • An ability to read audiences well and present with clarity and confidence
  • Passion for the liberal arts
  • Need to preserve the boutique, student focused undergraduate experience
  • President needs to be willing to serve as a public figure and represent the university to a diverse range of external stakeholders

Mr. Baker reiterated that an online survey would be sent to members of the search committee and they would be asked to categorize each of the themes as either high, mid or low priority.

Chair Hatten requested that a copy of the University’s Six-Year Plan and Strategic Plan be sent to members of the search committee and to Mr. Baker.

Chair Hatten reported that the next board meeting would be on April 14, 2022 and that Mr. Baker’s draft Leadership Profile would be presented to the Board of Visitors, after which time the next meeting of the search committee would be set. Once the Leadership Profile has been approved by the board, Chair Hatten said we would begin our search in earnest for prospective candidates.

Chair Hatten referred members of the committee to the sample position profiles (posted on BoardDocs). He stated that members of the administration are all writing pieces for Mr. Baker to consider what they believe to be special about Christopher Newport, so that someone can see who we are and what they need to be in order to take us forward.

Ms. Wason conveyed that CNU is about people and she suggested that we make our Leadership Profile more personal than the examples provided to include quotes, along with photos, so candidates can see who we are and understand our culture. Chair Hatten asked for members of the Search Committee to contribute letters and commentary for the Leadership Profile and search site landing page.

Chair Hatten made a motion to adjourn the meeting which was seconded by Ms. McKnight. There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 10:46 a.m.

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