These 9 universities are looking for a new president
If you're looking for work as a college president, now is a great time to be in the market. Several leadership seats are up for grabs at top public and private colleges around the country. But take note: There's a reason those positions are open.
Being a college president is a tough job, and the nature of the work is changing. Higher education leaders are expected to tackle challenges ranging from turning around declining enrollment and finding new sources of funding to navigating free speech concerns on campus and implementing new technology, just to name a few.
As a result, college presidents are spending less time on average in the position, and a "wave of departures" is expected over the next few years, according to one recent analysis. While some of the turnover is from retirements after successful tenures, more are a consequence of rifts with the board or mishandling of misconduct claims on campus.
And as plans to hire a new president at one of the universities indicate, these jobs may become harder to fill.
These nine public colleges or systems are among the largest, though certainly not the only, institutions on the hunt for presidents who will be tasked with confronting these issues head-on.
University of North Carolina System
In October, Margaret Spellings announced she will step down from her position as president of the 17-campus University of North Carolina System on March 1, 2019 — just three years into her five-year contract. Her short tenure has been riddled with controversy, including a lawsuit naming the university system in a complaint over its implementation of a since-repealed state law that limited what bathroom facilities transgender people could use. She also faced criticism from the Board of Governors about how to handle escalating tensions over a Confederate monument at the Chapel Hill campus.
William Roper, CEO of the UNC Health Care System, will succeed Spellings as the interim president while the board searches for a new leader.
University of Maryland, College Park
University of Maryland President Wallace Loh announced last month that he will retire in June, more than eight years into the job. The news came shortly after the results of an investigation into a student-athlete's death earlier this year were made public. The inquiry found he and others within the college's leadership ranks were partly responsible for ongoing dysfunction in the athletic department. Its fallout also revealed conflict between Loh and the board, whose chair stepped down and has since been replaced. Some, however, have since called on Loh to stay on as president.
A presidential search committee has not been announced. The university's Senate voted last week to request that any such committee would include more representation of campus employees and students. The Senate is made up of faculty, staff and student members.
University of South Florida System
Following almost two decades as the University of South Florida System president, Judy Genshaft announced she would retire effective July 1, 2019. During her tenure, USF's enrollment grew by 42% to more than 50,000 students and its four-year graduation rate tripled to 60%, according to the university.
USF launched a presidential search committee in September and hired a search firm. It hopes to have found a new president by March.
University of Southern California
A sexual misconduct scandal involving former University of Southern California gynecologist George Tyndall led its president, C.L. Max Nikias, to relinquish his role in early August. Nikias had been in the position eight years.
His decision came after an online petition signed by more than 4,000 students and alumni called for his resignation, alleging the university mishandled sexual misconduct complaints against a handful of top employees, including Tyndall. USC later paid more than $200 million to settle a federal class-action lawsuit stemming from the allegations against Tyndall, and it faces dozens more in state court.
USC Board of Trustees member Wanda Austin is filling in as interim president while the university searches for Nikias' replacement. He will stay on as president emeritus.
University of South Carolina
After a 10-year run, University of South Carolina President Harris Pastides announced in early October that he would retire from the position in 2019.
Pastides took the job at the start of the Great Recession and used the period's low-interest rates to launch more than $1 billion in construction projects at the university, The State reported. He oversaw the college as system-wide enrollment increased by one-quarter to 51,000-plus students and as its baseball and women's basketball teams nabbed NCAA titles.
The university formed a search committee to find his replacement, but has not nailed down a timeline for the process.
Michigan State University
Lou Anna Simon resigned earlier this year as president of Michigan State University following complaints that she and other university leaders mishandled allegations of sexual misconduct against former university sports doctor Larry Nassar. She became Michigan State's president in 2005.
Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison for decades of sexual abuse that he passed off as medical treatment. In the two decades leading up to Nassar's arrest in December 2016, at least 14 Michigan State representatives were notified of his misconduct, according to The Detroit News. The university is facing 500 lawsuits over Nassar, and it has established a $500 million settlement fund for his victims.
University of Minnesota
In July, Eric Kaler announced he would step down from his position as president of the University of Minnesota in July 2019, one year before his contract is set to expire. His seven-year tenure has been rocky at times, as he has battled lawmakers over state funding and dealt with a sexual misconduct scandal in his athletics department.
The search for his replacement began immediately, though only about 60 candidates had applied for the position by Nov. 9 — far fewer than the 150 candidates who applied the last time the job was open.
Colorado State University
After a decade on the job, Colorado State University President Tony Frank announced in September that he plans to step down next summer. Under his leadership, CSU set a new record on research spending, increased its enrollment and invested more than $1.5 billion in new facilities and upgrades at its Fort Collins campus. Frank will stay on as chancellor.
To aid the candidate selection process, CSU launched a website detailing the process, created a 16-member search committee and hired an outside firm to perform a nationwide hunt.
University of Vermont
Citing plans to return to the faculty, University of Vermont President Thomas Sullivan announced in August that he plans to step down in the summer of 2019 after seven years in the position.
His decision follows campus protests last year over racial injustice within the university. Students demanded his resignation after they said the administration had bungled its response or failed to take action in response to several racist incidents, including white supremacist flyers on campus, a student accused of making racist threats and a stolen Black Lives Matter flag, the Burlington Free Press reported. One university employee gained attention for a hunger strike to draw university leaders' attention to a list of demands.
The university launched a search committee for the new president and hopes to find a replacement by March.
Follow Natalie Schwartz on Twitter