Presidential Search UPDATE

Kelao Charmaine Neumbo, Staff Writer

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Following President Paula Carlson’s retirement announcement, applications closed for people applying to be Luther’s 11th president on Nov. 7. The presidential search committee is reviewing and narrowing applications to select a smaller candidate pool.

In the last update, the presidential search committee hosted a student meeting on Sept. 13, where 36 students attended and participated in dialogues with Vice Chair of the Board of Regents and Chair of the Institutional Planning & Board Affairs committee Bob Paulson (‘78) and representatives from Storbeck/Pimentel Associates executive search firm.

This dialogue assisted in providing the basis for the Luther College “Presidential Prospectus” that can be found on the Luther’s Presidential Search website. Students and faculty were also presented with an opportunity to nominate possible candidates through a link that was provided. These recommendations were then passed onto the search committee and the executive search firm for further enquiry.

On Oct. 3, the presidential prospectus was released marking the opening of applications for prospective presidents who possess leadership and commitment to the college’s mission and values. The prospectus also included Luther’s strategic plan for 2018-23 as well as information about various academic and campus aspects.

Storbeck/Pimentel also placed a series of solicitations in widely circulated higher education journals, such as “The Chronicle of Higher Education,” “Inside Higher Ed,” and a number of other relevant websites, to publicize the search.

Prospective candidates were required to submit electronic résumés and letters of candidacy in response to the opportunities, challenges, qualities, and capabilities sought for in the next president by Luther College. Although applications were due Nov. 7, applicants are still welcomed to submit supplications until the next president is appointed.

Recently, the Presidential Search Committee began the confidential process of identifying a pool of candidates.  A full committee meeting will be held this week to select the first group of applicants that will proceed to the next round for interviews.

“After the committee was formed, the first step was to circulate the prospectus and list both the nominations and applications,” Paulson said. “The nominees were reached out [to] by Storbeck/Pimentel to see if they were interested in submitting an application. Whenever there were interviews, the executive search firm has had discussions and interviews with them first.”

Due to the nature of the search process, Paulson was unable to disclose much information on the candidate pool but ensured its diversity.

“It will be a very representative number [and] it will be a broad enough group so that we consider the variety of backgrounds,” Paulson said. “We want to make sure that we select the best of the bunch from each of those sets of backgrounds and experiences.”

The committee has a structured timeline moving forward with the search process.

“During the second stage of the screening process, we will elect a pool of candidates before the end of December,” Paulson said. “This is the stage we are in now. Candidate interviews will be held at an offset location, where we will then proceed into the third stage where will have our semi-finalist in early march, after J-term. The objective is to have the new president nominated and elected by the board of regents in early 2019. Early March or  April will be the target to have the new president named.”

Janet Irankunda (19), who is the student representative on the search committee, will also be part of the selection process and will have an equal vote to every other committee member.

“It also my expectation as chair, that Janet [Irankunda] well represents the opinions and needs of the student body in those interviews and the selection process and takes into consideration whatever inputs she sees is important,” Paulson said.

Irankunda, expressed her willingness for students to reach out to her as a way to stay a part of the selection process.

“That is a way that the community can be involved in the process,” Irkandu said. “I would be more than happy to take in the considerations of the student body when I make my vote, as long as we all understand that the candidates cannot be revealed due to the confidentiality of the process to protect the candidates who my hold positions in other higher education institutions.” 

The committee is also considering the possibility of expanding the group of people that will interview the semi finalist.

“That expanded group, if it were to occur, will include additional faculty and staff and students who will also be subject to confidentiality obligations,” said Paulson.

The term of the new president will start when President Carlson officially steps down at the end of her term. Paulson also explained other possibilities.

“Theoretically if a president is still not elected, President Carlson might be asked to sit longer, or an Interim President may be elected till the right candidate is selected,” Paulson said. “The right person matters more than getting a person. It depends if the person is the right fit for the position.”

The role of the new president of Luther College will be to be the executive head of the college, and will have the opportunity to develop and implement a shared vision for Luther’s next chapter as well as strengthen diversity and a global perspective.

Updates of the presidential search will be posted on

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