April Cover
Volume 82 | Issue 2
April 2014

ACUI Begins Search for Next CEO

About one year from now, ACUI will welcome its fourth executive director. Current CEO and Executive Director Marsha Herman-Betzen has announced she will retire in 2015, and the Board of Trustees has been committed to ensuring a smooth transition.

“Marsha’s 20 years of leading the Association are to be commended,” said President Kim Harrington-Pete, Georgia Institute of Technology. “She has helped us realize new levels of success, leaving the organization better than she found it and demonstrating care as she passes the torch to the next CEO.”
Along with the aid of a search firm, the hiring process will be coordinated by the Executive Committee, composed of the president, president-elect, and current executive director. While Herman-Betzen will be an active participant in the search process, she has voluntarily decided to recuse herself from candidate interviews and final board deliberations. The voting members of the Board of Trustees will make the final decision of who to hire as the new CEO.

Herman-Betzen’s official title for legal documents always has been executive director/chief executive officer, although she has publicly used only the former. After much deliberation, the Board of Trustees has decided the legal title will remain the same, but that CEO will be used publicly as it more accurately reflects the position’s responsibilities. The new CEO also will continue to serve as an ex-officio member of the Board of Trustees and secretary-treasurer of the Association.

In recent months, ACUI past president Rich Steele, Georgia Institute of Technology, along with an Envisioned Future Work Group, has been compiling member input on what the Association might like to see in the next senior leader as well as ideas to integrate into the next strategic planning cycle, also beginning in 2015. Having this initial data in hand, the Board of Trustees drafted a job description, which will be refined once a search firm is selected.
This is the first time the Association has used a search firm, an approach the board chose to take because the expertise and reputation of a firm could attract higher caliber candidates and the process would be perceived as more professional, thorough, and fair. Several student affairs associations have recently or will soon complete a search process for their executive officer, so advice from peers has been useful. The request for proposals from search firms was sent to some of the companies that other organizations have used as well as additional ones that specialize in association management and higher education hires. Bids are due by April 18.

The Board of Trustees is committed to hiring the right candidate for the Association, with a goal of announcing the new executive director in early 2015. To meet this deadline, the search firm will begin recruiting qualified applicants in June and identify a short list of candidates by November. Immediate Past President Mark Guthier, University of Wisconsin–Madison, will then convene a screening committee to narrow the pool for finalist interviews, which the board and staff will conduct in December. Finalists also will be announced to the membership.

“As I begin my term on the board, I will have the pleasure of working with two executive directors: Marsha this year as I’m president-elect and a new leader in 2015 while I’m president,” said President-Elect Sarah Aikman, Northern Kentucky University. “I want to ensure a transparent process and smooth transition between the two, and I welcome any comments from members and volunteers, who I realize are truly invested in our success.”

Questions about the search process can be directed to ceosearch@acui.org.