Presidential Search Processes

This post was contributed by Mr. Joe Dezelan, chair of the President Support and Evaluation Committee at Cathedral High School, Indianapolis, IN.

During the calendar year of 2014, our President Support and Evaluation Committee (PSEC), together with our current school president, began a conversation around succession planning.  Our president indicated his desire to retire from our school at the end of the 2015-2016 school year.  It was determined that our president would then serve until July 1, 2016.

We began the process of determining a search committee appointed by our board chair and, once the chair of this search committee was determined, we developed a request for proposal for search firms to respond.  We interviewed the top two respondents and through a series of face-to-face interviews we determined the search firm we would use.  Having a good, experienced and highly recommended search firm is the most important part of the process, in my opinion.

Our committee began the process of developing a profile of qualities we desired in the next president.  We studied our mission and vision statements. We had input from our board of trustees, faculty, staff, parents and students. This document was communicated to our search firm at which time they developed a “Candidate Information Document” which eventually became a public document for candidates and our Cathedral family to review.

Our search firm made visits to the school to also interview board, faculty, staff, family and students to develop a good understanding of our school as they began the process of marketing the position to their prospective candidates.

We developed a calendar of the total process that was also communicated to our constituents.  This search process began in the February/March time frame with our interviews of semifinalists and finalists in September and the recommendation of the next president to the board in the second week of October.

After the approval of the president-elect we began the process of transition.  A transition team was appointed and the charge of this team is to assist the president elect with his integration to the Cathedral culture through a series of monthly visits to the school beginning in November 2015 and continuing monthly until his move here in June 2016.

The transition team is in the process of developing a “play book” for the president.  This play book will give a detailed overview of all the key departments of the school – finance, enrollment management, advancement, marketing, academics, athletics, campus ministry, etc.  Included will be the point person of each of these departments, their respective staff and duties and the overall mission/vision of these departments.  This will be presented to the new president in January 2016 whereby he will have a very complete “play book” to help him get acclimated to the school before he actually arrives to begin his new position.

Overall, this search process was developed to be transparent and inclusive.  We developed the plan, the process and the calendar and we did not deviate.  We feel the process has been very successful and has been applauded by the faculty, staff and family.