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Search for Mills’ 14th president underway

President Alecia DeCoudreaux's (above) contract expires at the end of the Spring 2016 semester in June. (Campanil Archives)
President Alecia DeCoudreaux’s (above) contract expires at the end of the Spring 2016 semester in June. (Campanil Archives)

Shortly after President Alecia DeCoudreaux announced to the college via email that she would not be renewing her contract with Mills in 2015, the Board of Trustees and administration sprung into action to create a presidential search task force that is responsible for walking the college through a smooth search and transition between college presidents.

Leading the task force is trustee and Mills alumna, Katie Sanborn. The task force is working with a higher institution hiring  firm, Issacson Miller, to assist with finding a candidate that fits in at Mills. This is not the first time the firm has worked with Mills.  Chief of Staff and VP of Operations Renee Jadushlever is also a part of this task force. This is her second time on a search committee, the first being in 2010 when current President DeCoudreaux was hired.

Sanborn chairs the committee that is staffed by 15 current students, trustees, alumnae, staff and faculty. When Sanborn was interviewing for committee members, she looked for three qualities that she felt were not only vital to finding Mills’ next president, but also life.

“I really want in every committee member the qualities of curiosity, candor and kindness. I want us to be intellectual so that we ask the right questions, that we probe and are open to new ideas,” Sanborn said.

Starting Aug. 20, some committee members and representatives from Issacson Miller held constituent meetings to hear from people who work with with Mills’ president in different settings.

On Sept. 9, student constituent meetings were held in the Student Union to discuss topics such as improving transparency among different departments and the administration, diversity on campus and asking what a college president does were all discussed.

Of the attendees, senior Risa Gearhart thought that the meeting went well and has high hopes for the search for the next president.

“They [the representatives from Issacson Miller] were really good at summarizing what people wanted,” Gearhart said.

Issacson Miller representatives are currently putting together a presidential position profile for serious presidential candidates. According to Jadushlever, the position profile will give the candidates an idea of the job description and the culture at Mills.

On Sept. 16, an ad put together by the firm and committee was posted on education publications and websites, such as the Chronicle of Higher Education. The ad described the atmosphere at Mills and the different types of tasks that the 14th president of Mills would have to do.

“Mills has a tremendous opportunity, is uniquely positioned to address the social and cultural challenges of our time both within the campus and wider East Bay community, and is seeking an entrepreneurial, dynamic leader who can provide intellectual leadership, strategic direction, vision and innovation” an excerpt from the posting says.

According to Jadushlever, the posting is just one of the many ways that the firm is looking for Presidential candidates.

“You look for jobs in different ways.  You may check the newspaper, or be told about it from a friend or even promoted from within. However, most of many of the people who will be interested in applying currently have a job right now” Jadushlever said, explaining that many applicants will come from head hunter calls.

According to both Jadushlever and Sanborn, the committee hopes to have a good idea of who the 14th president of Mills will be around March 2016. President DeCoudreaux’s contract expires on June 30, 2016.