Auburn University presidential search update

Published: January 14, 2022

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Dear Auburn Family,

I write today to share an update regarding Auburn University’s search for our 21st President. As we have mentioned several times during this process, selecting a president is one of the most important decisions any university board of trustees can make. I am pleased to report the following information about our progress.

First, I would like to thank each of you again for walking with us on this path, especially Trustee and Committee Chairperson Sarah Newton and the members of the Presidential Search Advisory Committee. We are nearing completion of the search and are extremely appreciative for the assistance we have received in this extensive process.

Following the announcement of the search this summer, the selection of Greenwood/Asher & Associates, LLC as our search firm, and the appointment of our 22-member Presidential Search Advisory Committee, the advisory committee conducted eight well-attended listening sessions to collect your important thoughts and opinions about Auburn’s next leader. The feedback from those sessions was most helpful in drafting the position description, and we all began in earnest to publish the announcement and recruit qualified applicants from universities across the country.

Over the last few months, more than 60 qualified individuals expressed great interest in the Auburn presidency. The advisory committee screened applicants and interested individuals, reviewed a great amount of material about each, and ultimately selected 15 individuals to speak with the advisory committee just before the holidays. The committee spoke with a diverse pool of well-qualified educators, many of whom were sitting presidents, provosts, and deans of outstanding institutions. The advisory committee asked difficult questions, explored the individuals’ backgrounds, and each shared a confidential assessment with Greenwood/Asher.

From that point, the names of the advisory committee’s five most favored individuals were passed to the Board of Trustees. The board’s executive committee met in early January with the individuals and again asked probing questions, exploring the interest, ideas, and abilities of each. Of those five diverse individuals, one withdrew from the process and three were found especially qualified for academic leadership.

Understanding the importance of transparency and shared governance on the Auburn campus, we asked the three most currently qualified individuals for the Auburn presidency if they would be willing to come to campus so the entire Auburn Family could assess their match for the position. Two of the individuals informed us that they would not be willing to come unless they knew they would be selected as president, understandably expressing the importance of confidentiality for their careers. One individual was willing to come without knowing the outcome of the process.

I am excited to announce today that I have asked the Office of the Board of Trustees to coordinate a campus visit for Dean Chris Roberts of the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering at Auburn University.  The visit will take place in Auburn and Montgomery, on Jan. 20 and 21 and will include public meetings with many Auburn constituencies.  In the coming days, we will communicate Dr. Roberts’ schedule with you.

Please know that your input during the pending visit is very important to the Board. We ask that you make every effort possible to meet Dean Roberts during his visit and to share your thoughts with us following the visit.

Thanks again to all of you for your participation in this important decision.

War Eagle!

Trustee and Executive Committee Chairperson Wayne Smith

Chris Roberts

Dr. Chris Roberts