CIC Presidential Search

About the Search

CIC has engaged Academic Search to facilitate the search for its next president. The search is being led by consultants Ann Die Hasselmo, Jay Lemons, and Jennifer Kooken. To learn more about the search or to contact CIC's search consultants, visit Information about the search timeline, the search committee, and search-related communications can be found below.


​October 2020: President Richard Ekman announces his plans to retire in July 2021; Search launched

January 11, 2021: Priority application deadline

January–February 2021: Consideration of candidates continues until selection is made

March 2021: Appointment announced

July 2021: CIC's seventh President takes office

Search Committee

Katherine Bergeron
President, Connecticut College
Michael C. Maxey
President, Roanoke College

Roslyn Clark Artis
President, Benedict College

H. James Williams
President, Mount St. Joseph University

Elizabeth Davis
President, Furman University

Elizabeth J. Stroble
Chancellor, Webster University

Arvid C. Johnson
President, University of St. Francis

Past Communications

A Message from CIC Board Chair Katherine Bergeron

March 3, 2021

Dear Colleagues:

It gives me great pleasure to share the news that Marjorie Hass, president of Rhodes College and former president of Austin College, has been chosen as the next leader of the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC), the first female president in the association’s 65-year history. Her term will begin August 2021.

Marjorie is no stranger to CIC, having served on the Board of Directors from 2012 to 2016, including service as Vice Chair for Resource Development on the Board’s Executive Committee from 2014 to 2016. She is a frequent presenter at the annual CIC Presidents Institute, and most recently served as faculty in CIC’s New Presidents Program. Widely recognized as a champion of the liberal arts, she is a visionary, dynamic, and entrepreneurial leader who will mark a new era at the Council. We know she will build on the impressive legacy left by Richard Ekman with her own strong reputation for fiscal stewardship, experience in program building, and commitment to leadership development.

She is, in fact, about to publish a book on leadership, based on the extensive work she has done mentoring women leaders in higher education. She has also been active in the leadership of other prominent higher education associations, serving as a board member of the Association of American Colleges & Universities and as former chair of the board of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. This experience positions her especially well for her new role at CIC, during a time of challenge, transformation, and opportunity in independent higher education.

President-elect Hass, a philosopher by training, holds a PhD from the University of Illinois and has published widely on the philosophy of language, logic, and feminist philosophy. She is also an award-winning teacher, who served for more than 16 years on the faculty—then as provost—of Muhlenberg College, a position she held until she was named president of Austin College in 2009.

As president of Rhodes College since 2017, Marjorie led a comprehensive and inclusive strategic planning process, positioning the college for success in the next decade. She made access and equity a college-wide priority, appointing the college’s first chief diversity officer and vice president for strategic initiatives, increasing diversity within her cabinet and the student body, establishing a first-of-its-kind partnership with the Posse Foundation, and supporting the development of an ambitious multi-year action plan for inclusion, diversity, access, and equity. Strengthening the college’s ties to its home city of Memphis, she secured an endowment to establish the Lynne and Henry Turley Memphis Center and expanded opportunities for students to participate in service, internships, and research. Under her leadership, applications have increased by more than 20 percent and Rhodes has been named one of the nation’s most innovative liberal arts colleges by US News & World Report, a best value college by The Princeton Review, and Tennessee’s best liberal arts college according to Niche.

While serving as president of Austin College, she paired a strong vision for its future that included a culture of academic excellence and a commitment to educational access for talented students regardless of financial background, with a strategic approach to securing the resources needed to achieve that vision. Her accomplishments include considerable growth in the size and strength of the college’s applicant pool as well as increased retention; major steps to improve the environmental sustainability of the institution; and a significant improvement in the college’s financial position.

Marjorie is married to Lawrence Hass, a former professor of humanities at Austin College and a former professor of philosophy and theater arts at Muhlenberg College. He is an internationally known sleight-of-hand magician and teacher of magicians. Together, they are the parents of Cameron, a program and compliance manager for Boomi in Philadelphia, PA, and Jessica, an executive assistant in Memphis, TN.

I want to thank the members of the search committee for their exceptional work in bringing the search to such a successful outcome: Roslyn Clark Artis, president of Benedict College; Elizabeth Davis, president of Furman University; Arvid C. Johnson, president of University of St. Francis; Michael C. Maxey, president of Roanoke College; Elizabeth J. Stroble, chancellor of Webster University; and H. James Williams, president of Mount St. Joseph University. I also want to thank our partners from Academic Search, Ann Hasselmo, Jennifer Kooken, and Jay Lemons, for their enthusiastic support throughout the process.

While Marjorie inherits a strong organization, she is committed to building on CIC’s robust record of success in serving and supporting members during this dynamic time.

Yours sincerely,
Katherine Bergeron
President, Connecticut College
Chair, Board of Directors, Council of Independent Colleges

A Message from CIC Board Chair Katherine Bergeron

October 21, 2020

Dear Colleagues:

Last week, Richard Ekman informed the Executive Committee of the CIC Board of Directors of his intention to retire at the end of this fiscal year, after 21 years of service. His departure marks the end of an era. As we all know, Rich has been an extraordinary leader of CIC. He has attracted talented and loyal staff. With them, he has developed the impressive list of programs and services that the association is known for. And, not surprisingly, he has seen our membership continue to grow. Through his vision, CIC has become a powerful platform to support independent higher education in the U.S. and around the world. The landscape of higher education may have changed in the last two decades, but CIC has shown us the enduring value of the liberal arts.

As president, Rich has been responsive to emerging issues, effective in garnering support from corporate and foundation sponsors, and nimble in creating new programs to serve our membership. All of us have benefited from this flexible and forward thinking, but never more than in the past months, as CIC has worked to support us even more generously through a global pandemic.

We will have many occasions in the coming months to thank Rich for all he has done at CIC. For now, on behalf of the Board, I simply want to thank him for his vision, his exceptional work ethic, his exceedingly high standards, and for his creative and collaborative spirit—all of which have made the association what it is today.

I also want to thank Rich for the way he carefully considered the moment of his retirement. In the midst of an ongoing public health crisis, he waited to announce his plans until he could ensure that CIC was in a strong position. And now it is, thanks to his excellent stewardship and that of his team. To manage the search for his successor, CIC has retained Jay Lemons and Ann Die Hasselmo of Academic Search. I am grateful that the members of our Executive Committee have also agreed to serve with me on the search committee: Roslyn Clark Artis (president of Benedict College, SC), MaryAnn Baenninger (past president of Drew University, NJ), Elizabeth Davis (president of Furman University, SC), Arvid C. Johnson (president of University of St. Francis, IL), Michael C. Maxey (president of Roanoke College, VA), Elizabeth J. Stroble (chancellor of Webster University, MO), and H. James Williams (president of Mount St. Joseph University, OH). More information about the search, including its procedures, criteria, and timetable, will be available in due course on the CIC website.

I know that you join me in thanking Rich for his many years of service to CIC and to higher education. Rich would like to thank you, as well, and will be sending his own letter later today.

Yours sincerely,
Katherine Bergeron
President, Connecticut College
Chair, Board of Directors, Council of Independent Colleges

A Message from CIC President Richard Ekman

October 21, 2020

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Last week I informed the CIC Board of Directors of my plan to retire from the presidency of CIC in July 2021 after 21 years of service.

Serving the cause of independent higher education for the past two decades has been a rare privilege and a source of great personal and professional satisfaction. Early in this calendar year, CIC was at its strongest point ever by the usual metrics—membership, participation, funding, media coverage—and, happily, the pandemic-related dip that all of us saw in March already shows encouraging signs of reversal.

Since 2000, membership has grown by 42 percent to 655 private institutions. CIC now offers three times as many programs and services as it did 20 years ago in a rotating agenda of initiatives that serve presidents, chief academic officers, and faculty members alike. To illustrate the range of CIC’s activities, you can see below a list of some of the major initiatives that have been developed since 2000.

None of these efforts on behalf of CIC member colleges would have been possible without your help and support. CIC has benefited from the commitment of many CIC member presidents, CAOs, and others. The generous financial support and encouragement provided by leaders of foundations, private companies that contribute both expertise and financial support, and leaders of other scholarly and professional organizations that support our cause have also been powerful. Many CIC presidents and CAOs have served on the Board of Directors and other CIC committees, task forces, and advisory councils; these colleagues have played significant roles in shaping CIC’s programs as planners and speakers. I am grateful to have had many opportunities to work with such skillful, entrepreneurial, imaginative, and dedicated leaders in higher education.

All these efforts have been the result of the effective work of an exceptional team of staff colleagues. The stalwart members of CIC’s staff are among the most hard-working, mission-driven, results-focused, and service-oriented professionals with whom I have ever had the honor to work.

As I reflect on 20 years, the issues that loomed largest when I began my tenure at CIC now appear tame-- and even quaint. There was quite a lot of worry then, for example, that the growth of interdisciplinary programs could erode the rigor of core disciplines. We now recognize that the explosion of interdisciplinary, thematic, and problem-based ways of organizing undergraduate studies represent limitless possibilities that are both rigorous and generative for our students. There was also a lot of consternation about the rising tuition discount rate as it exceeded 25 percent and worries that, if it crept higher, it would be unsustainable. We now know that CIC colleges are truly committed to making college affordable for those who will benefit from it, have raised scholarship funds in extraordinary amounts, and can point to the superior track record of students, especially those from underrepresented groups. Indeed, more than 30 percent of students at CIC member institutions are Pell Grant recipients; so much for the myth that private colleges are for only affluent students—a myth that CIC has countered with some success!

These reflections give me great hope that the challenges of today, daunting as they seem at the moment, will in another 20 years have led to increased success for independent higher education.

CIC will continue to anticipate the programs and services that you will need before you need them. The Key Indicators Tool, Financial Indicators Tool, and CIC’s data collection and analysis functions were created as free benchmarking services for member presidents in the early 2000s, when it was becoming clear that mere anecdotes about small classes and devoted teachers were not enough to make a persuasive case for the effectiveness of our institutions. The 2018 and 2019 Diversity, Civility, and the Liberal Arts Institutes, conceived in 2016, helped many colleges address pressing issues of racial justice. The creation of the CIC Online Course Sharing Consortium in 2018 and its mushrooming growth have pioneered a way to give students access to online courses in the context of a mostly “live” undergraduate education.

I’m delighted to report that the CIC Board of Directors, under the leadership of its chair, Katherine Bergeron, president of Connecticut College, has engaged Jay Lemons and Ann Die Hasselmo of Academic Search to assist in the search for CIC’s next president. I know that Jay and Ann will be eager to hear from prospective candidates as well as from others who have advice for the Board on factors that should be emphasized in the search.

It has been a highlight of my professional life to serve as CIC’s president. In the months and years ahead, I expect that our shared commitment to independent higher education will provide opportunities for us to stay in touch. And I assure you that, between now and July 2021, the CIC team and I will remain enthusiastically engaged in serving our members.

Sincerely yours,

Richard Ekman
Council of Independent Colleges


What follows is a partial list of CIC initiatives that were either begun or substantially expanded during the 20-year period.

For Institutions:

American Academic Leadership Institute created
American Councils for International Education partnership—preferred access to study-abroad programs
CIC/New York Times Partnership in Education—Presidents Council and Student Editors Workshops
CIC Tuition Exchange Program (CIC-TEP)
CIC/UPS Grant Programs for State Councils
CIC/UPS Scholarships
CIC Visiting Fellows Program
Collaborative Programs with Mexican Private Universities
Consortium for Online Humanities Instruction
Consortium on Digital Resources for Teaching and Research
Consortium to Pilot the Collegiate Learning Assessment
Consortium to Pilot the Degree Qualifications Profile
Data and Decisions Workshops
Davies-Jackson Scholarships
Financial Indicators Tool
Foundation for Independent Higher Education merged into CIC
Humanities Research for the Public Good
Independent Pathways: Community College Transfer in the Liberal Arts
Information Fluency in the Disciplines Workshops
Information Literacy Workshops
Key Indicators Tool
Learning Spaces Workshops
“Making the Case” Data Resources
Online Course Sharing Consortium (CIC-OCSC)
Research Digests
Research Reports
Talking about Private Colleges: Busting the Myths Workshops

For Presidents and Senior Leaders:

Conversation between Foundation Officers and College and University Presidents
Executive Leadership Academy
Institute for Chief Academic Officers
Presidential Vocation and Institutional Mission Program
Presidents Governance Academy
Presidents Institute
Senior Leadership Academy

For Faculty Members:

Deliberation & Debate: Advancing Civil Discourse through Courses for First-Year Students
Diversity, Civility, and the Liberal Arts Institutes
Legacies of American Slavery: Reckoning with the Past
Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education (NetVUE)
New Currents in Teaching Philosophy
Seminars in American History
Seminars on Ancient Greece in the Modern College Classroom
Seminars on Science Pedagogy
Seminars on Teaching European Art in Context
Seminars on Teaching Interfaith Understanding
Workshops for Department and Division Chairs

For Visibility of the Sector:

College Media Conference
Project on the Future of Independent Higher Education
Securing America’s Future Public Information Campaign
Symposium on the Future of the Humanities
Symposium on the Liberal Arts in Action