Presidential Vocation and Institutional Mission Participants Reflect on Seminar; 2019–2020 Nomination Period Opens

“The seminar was one of the best professional and personal development opportunities I have ever experienced,” reflected Mark L. Biermann, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at Valparaiso University (IN), on CIC’s 2018–2019 Presidential Vocation and Institutional Mission summer seminar. “The combination of extensive readings beforehand and the in-depth discussion of the readings during the seminar made for an effective tool in considering mission and vocation. In addition, the inclusion of free time was essential to allow informal conversations and reflection with my spouse and other participants.”

The four-day seminar for prospective college presidents, held in Woodstock, Vermont, July 8–11, 2018, began a yearlong program that includes a winter seminar, extensive readings, and individual consultations. Funded by a generous grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., 20 senior administrators, many with spouses or partners, participate in this cohort.

Now in its ninth offering, the leadership development program seeks to increase the number of successful presidencies of independent colleges and universities by fostering the commitment across American higher education to personal vocation and institutional mission as fundamentally linked concepts that build and sustain effective leadership. The program is distinctive from other leadership development opportunities. “The goal of the program is not to teach the nuts and bolts of the presidency, but to give participants the space to imagine what a successful presidency would look like and to offer tools for discerning how to identify the best opportunity for personal and institutional success,” explained program director Frederik Ohles, president of Nebraska Wesleyan University and CIC senior advisor.

Another distinctive feature is that prospective presidents participate in the program with their spouse or partner. As full participants, spouses are encouraged to seek their own sense of fulfillment, whether in the role of presidential partner or in any other occupation. This year, 18 of the 20 prospective presidents participated with spouses or partners.

In addition to Ohles, others who have thought deeply about matters of personal vocation and institutional mission as they are related to the college or university presidency lend their expertise. Facilitators include Donna Carroll, president of Dominican University (IL); Joel and Trudy Cunningham, vice chancellor emeritus and former presidential spouse, respectively, of Sewanee: The University of the South (TN); Rosemary Ohles, presidential spouse of Nebraska Wesleyan University; and Tim and Mary Ellen Summerlin, president emeritus and former presidential spouse, respectively, of Schreiner University (TX). Facilitators share their own vocational discernment process from their roles as presidents and presidential spouses. They also lead discussions on readings that vary from selections from Homer’s Odyssey, to Martin Luther King, Jr. speeches, to the memoirs of Jill Ker Conway.

Nearly 35 percent of all past participants in the program for prospective presidents so far have gone on to serve as college presidents, with higher percentages from the earliest participants. Harry E. Dumay, president of Elms College (MA), and his wife, Maggie Dumay, recently participated in the program as a prospective presidential couple. In an invigorating presentation, they shared with participants how they used the insights developed in this program in their presidential search progress. Harry remarked that the program helped him sharpen the image of the community he would like to serve when president, while Maggie described how the program gave her the confidence to engage fully in the search process both with her husband and the selection committee. Both reflected that the program stimulated new ways of talking with each other about their goals as individuals and as a family.

Nominations for the 2019–2020 Program Are Due February 7

CIC is now accepting nominations for the tenth Presidential Vocation and Institutional Mission program for prospective presidents. Senior administrators who currently serve CIC member institutions and who are contemplating a college presidency are encouraged to seek nomination by their president for this challenging and rewarding professional development opportunity. Participants are selected from nominations by current CIC presidents who believe their senior administrators have the potential to become effective presidents and may benefit from the reflective nature of the program.

The nomination deadline is February 7, 2019. For more information and the nomination materials, visit the program website or contact Harold V. Hartley III, CIC senior vice president, at (202) 466-7230 or hhartley@cic.nche.edu.

group photo of participants standing outside
Participants in the 2018–2019 Presidential Vocation and Institutional Mission Program gathered in Woodstock, Vermont, this July for their first seminar.


Presidential Vocation and Institutional Mission Participants (2018–2019)

​Agnes Scott College (GA)
Karen C. Goff
Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students

Alderson Broaddus University (WV)
Eric M. Shor
Vice President for Enrollment Management

Alverno College (WI)
Scott C. Zeman
Vice President for Academic Affairs

Bluefield College (VA)
Michael White
Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Development

Brenau University (GA)
Amanda Lammers
Vice President for Student Services

California Lutheran University
Matthew Ward
Vice President for Enrollment Management and Marketing

Central College (IA)
Mary E.M. Strey
Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty

Dominican University (IL)
Roberto Curci
Dean, Brennan School of Business

East Texas Baptist University
Heather Hadlock
Vice President for Student Affairs

Goshen College (IN)
Kenneth F. Newbold, Jr.
Provost and Executive Vice President
Greenville University (IL)
Suzanne Allison Davis
Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer

Huntington University (IN)
Michael K. Wanous
Vice President for Academic Affairs

John Brown University (AR)
Rod Reed
Dean of Christian Formation

Marietta College (OH)
Janet L. Bland
Provost and Dean of the Faculty

North Central College (IL)
Kimberly Sluis
Vice President for Student Affairs and Strategic Initiatives

Norwich University (VT)
Sandra Affenito
Provost and Dean of the Faculty

Pfeiffer University (NC)
Tracy Espy
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

St. Norbert College (WI)
Jeffrey A. Frick
Dean of the College and Academic Vice President

Valparaiso University (IN)
Mark L. Biermann
Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs

Viterbo University (WI)
Tracy M. Stewart
Vice President for Academic Affairs



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