Presidential Search

With Simmons President Helen Drinan's term coming to an end in June 2020, Simmons University announces the start of the search for Simmons 9th President. This page provides information on the search process, search committee, search firm and frequently asked questions.

Search Process

While the Board of Trustees holds the ultimate responsibility for hiring the next president, it recognizes and values the critical importance of key stakeholder participation in the presidential search process and seeks their input around the future of Simmons, current institutional needs, and candidate qualifications. The critical role of key stakeholders is reflected in the diverse membership of the Search Committee, which is charged with presenting the Board with a recommended slate of the best-qualified candidates for their consideration.

Search Firm Selection

After vetting several national search firms, Simmons has retained Isaacson, Miller (IM). With offices in Boston, Washington, DC, Philadelphia, and San Francisco, IM has the largest higher education executive search practice in the U.S. and has placed some of the most respected and successful presidents in the country's leading colleges and universities. Our IM team – all Simmons alumnae - will be led by the firm’s president Vivian Brocard and Rebecca Swartz, partner, with senior associate Karen McPhedran. The team has extensive presidential search experience. Recent IM presidential searches include Wellesley College, Oberlin College & Conservatory, Union College, Mills College, Spelman College, Roger Williams University, Rochester Institute of Technology, and Hobart and William Smith Colleges, among many others.

Search Committee​

Selecting committee members was a thoughtful, deliberative process, as the Board was eager to reflect in the search committee representatives from all aspects of our community -- colleagues who will bring a variety of relevant professional, cultural and personal experience to the table. Also, in keeping with the new protocols Simmons has adopted for senior searches, we have included alumna and student representation on the committee, in addition to the trustees who will serve.

Trustees

Headshot of Regina Pisa

Regina Pisa (Chair of Search Committee)
Trustee Membership: Chair, Board of Trustees
Professional: Chairman Emeritus, Goodwin Procter

Lauren Brisky headshot

Lauren Brisky '73
Trustee Membership: Emeriti and former Chair, Board of Trustees
Professional: Retired, Vice Chancellor for Administration and Chief Financial Officer, Vanderbilt University

Headshot of Jane Buyers

Jane Buyers '81
Trustee Membership: Chair of Executive Development and Compensation Committee, Audit Committee, Executive Committee
Professional: Co-Founder and Facilitator, IDEALS@WORK

Headshot of Agenia Clark

Agenia Clark P'16
Trustee Membership: Trusteeship & Governance Committee, Executive Development and Compensation Committee
Professional: President/CEO, Girl Scouts of Middle Tennessee

Headshot of Dwight Crane

Dwight Crane
Trustee Membership: Chair of Trustee and Governance Committee, Investment Committee, Executive Committee
Professional: Professor of Business Administration Emeritus, Harvard Business School

Headshot of Tiffany Dufu

Tiffany Dufu
Trustee Membership: Advancement Committee, Educational Stewardship Committee
Professional: Founder and CEO, The Cru

Trustee Eckert headshot

Jennifer Eckert '08MSW
Trustee Membership: Vice Chair of Executive Committee, Trusteeship & Governance Committee, Educational Stewardship Committee
Professional: Founder, Boston Post Adoptions Resources

Headshot of Winston Tabb

Winston Tabb '72MS 
Trustee Membership: Chair of Educational Stewardship Committee, Chair of Faculty Review Committee, Executive Committee, Trusteeship & Governance Committee
Professional: Sheridan Dean of University Libraries and Museums, John Hopkins University

Deans

Dean Stephanie Berzin photograph

Stephanie Berzin
Dean
College of Social Sciences, Policy, and Practice

Catherine Paden photo

Catherine Paden
Associate Provost and Dean
Undergraduate Program

Faculty Members

Diane Grossman photo

Diane Raymond Grossman
Rising Chair, Faculty Senate
Professor, Philosophy and Women's and Gender Studies
Chair, Women's and Gender Studies
Director, Honors

Geoff Turner headshot

Geoffrey Turner
Current Chair, Faculty Senate
Associate Professor of Psychology

Saher Selod photo

Saher Selod
Associate Professor of Sociology, School of Social Work

 

Professional Staff and Community Members

Headshot of Debra Pérez

Debra Perez
Senior Vice President of Organizational Culture, Inclusion, and Equity
 

Headshot of Kathy Rogers

Kathy Rogers
Senior Vice President & General Counsel
Secretary to the Board of Trustees

Headshot of Amy White

Amy White '81
Senior Vice President of Institutional Advancement
Former Board of Trustee member

Benaree (Bennie) Wiley headshot

Benaree (Bennie) Wiley
Principal, The Wiley Group
Vice Chair, Board of Trustees, Howard University

Alumna

Enna Jimenez headshot

Enna Jimenez ‘91
Head of QA, Senior Director Quality Assurance, Civil Identity Business Unit, IDEMIA
President, Association of Latino Professionals for America, ALPFA, Boston Chapter
Former Board of Trustee member and Former President of Alumnae Association Executive Board

Student

Alexus Cruz headshot

Alexus Cruz
UG Class of 2020
Pre-med major
Incoming President of the Undergraduate Student Government Association

Input

It's important that we hear from the Simmons community and for those unable to attend the listening sessions, we have a survey and encourage you to fill it out.

Questions?

Find answers and general information quickly through our frequently asked questions.

Who is responsible for choosing the next president?

The Board of Trustees holds the ultimate responsibility for hiring the next president. The Board recognizes and values the critical importance of key stakeholder participation in the presidential search process and seeks their input around the future of Simmons, current institutional needs, and candidate qualifications. The critical role of key stakeholders is reflected in the diverse membership of the Search Committee, which is charged with presenting the Board with a recommended slate of the best-qualified candidates for their consideration.

What is the role of the Presidential Search Committee?

The role of the Presidential Search Committee is to conduct a national search to identify and interview the most qualified candidates and recommend a slate of diverse finalists to the Board of Trustees, whose members will make the final decision on electing the president. See the list of search committee members above.

How were the search committee members chosen?

Selecting committee members was a thoughtful, deliberative process, as the Board was eager to reflect in the search committee representatives from all aspects of our community -- colleagues who will bring a variety of relevant professional, cultural and personal experience to the table.  Also, in keeping with the new protocols Simmons has adopted for senior searches, we have included alumna and student representation on the committee, in addition to the trustees who will serve.

Which search firm has been retained and what is the firm’s role?

After vetting several national search firms, the Board has retained Isaacson, Miller (IM). With offices in Boston, Washington, DC, Philadelphia, and San Francisco, IM has the largest higher education executive search practice in the U.S. and has placed some of the most respected and successful presidents in the country's leading colleges and universities. Our IM team – all Simmons alumnae - will be led by the firm’s president Vivian Brocard and Rebecca Swartz, partner, with senior associate Karen McPhedran. The team has extensive presidential search experience. Recent IM presidential searches include Wellesley College, Oberlin College & Conservatory, Union College, Mills College, Spelman College, Roger Williams University, Rochester Institute of Technology, and Hobart and William Smith Colleges, among many others. 

The role of the search firm is to assist the Presidential Search Committee by guiding the Committee in its structure and processes; by advising and supporting the Committee in the creation of the presidential position profile; by engaging in outreach to attract a large, talented, and diverse pool of qualified candidates to be considered by the Committee; and by assisting in candidate evaluation and Search Committee interviews. The firm will also work with the Presidential Search Committee to conduct extensive background checks and references on all finalists. 

Why are we conducting a confidential search? 

After careful consideration and research, the Board unanimously concluded that a confidential search would ensure the deepest and most diverse candidate pool for the Presidential Search Committee’s consideration. 

In an increasingly competitive higher education landscape, the role of president requires an individual who has acquired significant leadership experience in a complex and nationally impactful organization. Ideally, that person will be successful and highly respected within their current institution, and a visible leader within their community.  

In non-confidential search processes, the prospect of public vetting with multiple finalists can dissuade the most experienced candidates from engaging in the search. A candidate’s standing in their current organization -- with faculty, board members, donors, and others -- can be significantly damaged if they are ultimately unsuccessful in what ends up being a public competition. Therefore, confidential searches are now the standard for most high profile private and public universities. The Search Committee and the Board of Trustees believe that it is in the best interest of both the institution and the candidates to follow this standard and to maintain a confidential search throughout the entire search process. 

How will Simmons ensure a diverse candidate pool?

As part of our 2022 strategy, we’ve incorporated inclusive excellence as a standard practice in recruitment and retention to ensure a diverse pool:

  • The search committee includes students, alumnae/I and Trustees.
  • Our executive search partner shares our commitment to inclusive excellence in hiring and we’ve been explicit in our expectations for broad diversity in our candidate pool.
  • A member of the Office of Organizational Culture, Inclusion and Equity will serve as a member of the search committee.
  • We’ve enlisted outside experts to ensure every step in the cycle—from writing the job description, to developing candidate pools, to reviewing CVs, to conducting interviews and selecting finalists—reflects non-biased, inclusive excellence.

How long will the search take and when will the new president take office?

Presidential searches typically take about six months. The Board hopes to name the next president this winter with a proposed official start date of July 1, 2020. 

How do I share my thoughts about the search or send nominations?

The search firm and the Presidential Search Committee welcome your thoughts on the search. The firm will hold open listening sessions with the on-campus community this spring and summer. You may also apply, nominate candidates, or pose questions through this site.