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Update from Presidential Search Committee Co-Chairs, January 20, 2022

Dear Aquinas College Community,

As co-chairs of the search committee for the ninth President of Aquinas College, we have pledged to conduct a transparent process that includes the diverse perspectives of our remarkable Aquinas family–students, alumni, faculty, staff, Dominican Sisters, volunteers, friends, and community stakeholders. With our fellow members of the Board of Trustees, we are guided in this process by our belief that the strength of this special institution lies in its commitment to being a place of belonging, where our rich differences are celebrated. Grounding this belief, is our understanding that this shared value is definitively rooted in the College’s Catholic and Dominican identity. An identity— whether we are Catholic, Dominican or other— we deeply respect and honor in our work for the College.

Last week, our consulting partners from Academic Search, Dr. Suzanne Mellon and Dr. Scott Flanagan, conducted focus group discussions with our campus stakeholders and compiled survey responses from 150 members of the AQ community. We are grateful for everyone who enthusiastically participated in this process! Drs. Mellon and Flanagan met with the Search Committee and we processed your feedback. After each significant meeting like this, we will provide updates to you on our work to date and explain next steps.

To begin, we want to directly address concerns raised that the Search Committee does not appear to represent all interests and identities on campus and was not created through a democratic process. As the co-chairs, we selected the Search Committee members—students, alumni, faculty, staff, Dominican Sisters and community stakeholders—not to directly represent interest groups but for their diverse perspectives, dedication to the College, and strong voices. We want to assure you that we have charged each member— and they fully embrace their responsibility— to represent and protect the interests of our diverse Aquinas family and the mission of the College. We are grateful for their service and the partnership of our AQ community in this important work.

We also wish to clarify the responsibilities of the Board of Trustees, the Search Committee and our consultants from Academic Search.

  • The Search Committee’s role is to develop a presidential profile with input from the AQ community and working within the parameters of the existing mission and vision of Aquinas College. After a national recruitment effort, the committee will select semifinalists for preliminary interviews, select a slate of finalists and provide to the Board of Trustees a report summarizing those finalists in unranked order.
  • The Academic Search consultants’ role is to provide advice about conducting a process that is consistent with the mission and culture of Aquinas College, provide guidance to incorporate best practices in higher education search and selection, and to recruit a qualified pool of applicants from a national field.
  • It is the responsibility of the Board of Trustees to appoint the next President.

Regarding the search process, with the input provided by the AQ community through the focus groups and survey, the Search Committee is developing a “leadership agenda” that will be part of the presidential search prospectus. Priorities identified for our next President include:

  • Achieving financial stability and growing enrollment to a sustainable level
  • Enhancing the distinctiveness of the College through academics and student experience
  • Being a champion of its mission and supporting the Aquinas Catholic and Dominican identity as reflected in its commitment to inclusivity, the principles of Catholic social teaching, and the Dominican charisms of prayer, community, study and service
  • Rebuilding a sense of unity and community in pursuit of a common vision to educate all of our diverse students and prepare them for lives of success and service

We anticipate completing the search prospectus and sharing it with you via the presidential search webpage in the next two weeks. Along with the consultants’ active recruitment of candidates, we welcome and encourage your help in reaching out to qualified candidates and making nominations. The Search Committee anticipates reviewing applications and conducting preliminary interviews in March, with finalist interviews to follow later in the spring semester.

Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions, comments, concerns or observations you might have about this process.

It is an honor to be entrusted to lead this important work. We are both humbled and excited about the opportunity to help Aquinas College find the best leader for its next chapter.

Thank you for your support, prayers and participation.

Sincerely,

John Lowery (jclowery@appliedimaging.com)

Sam Cummings (Sam@cwdRealEstate.com)

Aquinas College Presidential Search Committee Co-Chairs