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In another of those little ironies that make life so interesting,

September 17, 2008

the CAUT Bulletin has published “UK Report Raises Concerns about Use of Headhunters in University Recruitment,” just as our uni is gearing up for a presidential search:

The widespread use of headhun­ters to recruit and select university leaders may be doing more harm than good, even as the number of post-secondary institutions employing search firms continues to rise, a new report has revealed. …

[Sir David Watson’s] report, released in the summer 2008 issue of Engage, the mag­azine of the London-based Leader­ship Foundation for Higher Education, says the most serious side-effect of using headhunters is the “significant outsourcing of essential university responsibilities.” …

“We’ve seen a significant increase in the number of presidential searches being handled by head-hunters. And while they may establish a ‘stable’ of creditable applicants that’s initially wider than what a university search committee alone could muster, at the same time, these candidates are recycled over and over, and are kept at arms-length from any comprehensive un­derstanding of the institution’s particular needs,” [Jim Turk of CAUT] said.

See Engage 14 (Summer 2008) for more about Watson’s study (download PDF).

See also William G. Bowen, “The Successful Succession: How to manage the process of picking a president,” The Chronicle of Higher Education (March 2008) (subscription required).

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