Presidential search seeks community input

Jo Ann Johnston // Special to Western News

Faculty and staff got together Tuesday for a great discussion on day one of community consultations in the search for Western’s next president. The next session will happen in April.

What should be the priorities of Western’s next president? What challenges need to be tackled? What opportunities need to be seized? What kind of experience and personal characteristics must this person process to thrive in the position?

Members of the Presidential Selection Committee are looking to the campus community for answers to these questions – and many more – as the consultation process in advance of filling the university’s top post officially kicked off this week.


“On behalf of the Presidential Selection Committee, I want to encourage everyone to assist us in finding the best candidate to lead our university,” said Paul Jenkins, Chair, Western’s Board of Governors and the Presidential Selection Committee. “We have launched a broad, deep and inclusive consultation process. It is important to hear from all stakeholders. Our goal is to attract the highest calibre of candidates.”

Jenkins noted that being a university president is “an incredibly complex role” that requires strong leadership skills to run a $1-billion organization, while at the same time engaging faculty, staff and students in an open, transparent way.”

Western’s future direction, he stressed, will be shaped by the strategic priorities “we identify under the leadership of the individual we appoint.”

Jenkins continued, “The next president will be inheriting exceptional university community of faculty, staff, students and alumni. The successful candidate must be able to achieve consensus among these stakeholders to build on the best ideas.”

The consultation process offers a number of ways for the campus community can have its say, including:

  • A presidential search website – – will keep the campus up to date on the search. Feedback can be submitted directly through the site by clicking on the ‘Provide Input’ button;
  • Two community consultation sessions are slated. The first took place Tuesday; a second is planned for April;
  • Students, armed with iPads and e-notebooks, have been enlisted to fan out across campus to interview fellow students to get their perspective; and
  • Feedback can be sent via email to the consulting firm, Caldwell Partners, at

The consultation information will assist the committee in the development of the position description and other stages in the selection process. A potential list of candidates will emerge over the summer, and short-listed candidates will be interviewed this fall.

“We want to keep the campus informed as we travel through the process of finding Western’s new president,” Jenkins said.

President Amit Chakma’s term as president will expire at the end of June 2019, and a new president will take office July 1, 2019.