CMU selects Witt/Kieffer as presidential search firm


Central Michigan University has chosen Witt/Kieffer as its search firm to help find its next president. 

After the hiring of Witt/Kieffer, the next step is to gather input from the campus community via forums, according to a University Communications press release. Dates for those forums have yet to be set.

CMU will pay a professional fee to Witt/Kieffer of one-third of the new president' first year total cash compensation, according to Director of Communications Heather Smith. There is also an administrative fee of 10 percent of the estimated professional fee; not to exceed $10,000. Additional out-of-pocket expenses will be reimbursed, according to Smith.

Tricia Keith, a member of the CMU Board of Trustees and chair of the search advisory committee, said in the release that Witt Kieffer “has the expertise and approach to be a tremendous partner.”

"Witt/Kieffer values the input of the entire university community as we identify key qualifications and traits, and they have the reputation and connections to help us secure excellent candidates," Keith said in the release.

Trustees interviewed five search firms Feb. 15 after the board’s formal meeting. 

On Jan. 22, CMU President George Ross announced he would step down effective July 31. Board Chair William Weideman announced that trustees would hire a "nationally recognized search firm" to identify CMU's 15th president.

A 13-member search committee was appointed at the Feb. 15 board meeting. It comprises:

  • Tricia Keith, committee chair
  • Brad Swanson, Academic Senate chair
  • Anna Owens, Student Government Association president
  • Melinda Kreth, department chair of English Language and Literature
  • Steven Johnson, vice president of Enrollment and Student Services
  • Robert Wardrop II, trustee
  • William Kanine, trustee
  • Richard Studley, trustee
  • Tom Olver, president and CEO of United Way of Gratiot and Isabella Counties
  • Sid Smith, CEO of Smith Equities and former trustee
  • Dave Keilitz, former CMU athletic director
  • Pam Murray, alumna and senior benefits administrator at Van Andel Institute
  • Rene Shingles, professor, program director and internship coordinator in the School of Rehabilitation and Medical Services

Witt/Kieffer is listed as a pre-approved search firm in the manual of university policies, procedures and guidelines. The search firm is also assisting in CMU’s efforts to hire a Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer. 

Witt/Kieffer has been in place for 45 years, according to the release. In 2017, the search firm helped with the presidential searches for two other Mid-American Conference universities — Ball State University and Ohio University.


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Evan Sasiela is the University Editor at Central Michigan Life and a senior at Central Michigan ...

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