UCOP announces search firm to help find next UC president

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The UC Office of the President, or UCOP, announced Thursday that it will work with Storbeck/Pimentel & Associates — a woman and minority-owned executive search firm — to find the next UC president.

After UC President Janet Napolitano announced she would be stepping down in fall 2020, the UC Board of Regents created a special committee dedicated to finding the next UC president. Special Committee chair Gareth Elliott and Board of Regents chair John Pérez interviewed three search firms before deciding Storbeck/Pimentel & Associates was the best fit.

“Given the diversity of the state of California, we feel it is important for the Select Committee to consider a diverse pool of candidates,” Elliott said. “We wanted a firm with experience in engaging and recruiting diverse individuals into leadership positions in higher education.”

The role of the search firm is to help identify and research candidates, according to the UCOP Presidential Search website. The search firm will also reach out to potential candidates to determine interest and help support the Special Committee by posting advertisements and preparing materials. The search firm does not have any role, however, in deciding which candidate will move forward in the search process.

“I think (the choice is) reflective of an understanding by regents that there is a lot of diversity and equity-related concerns that exist in UC universe right now that they would want a future president to be attentive to,” said Varsha Sarveshwar, ASUC External Affairs vice president and UC Student Association, or UCSA, president.

The firm helped to create a list of criteria for the selection of the UC president, according to Sarveshwar. She added that the UCSA is especially happy with the criteria that a future president will prioritize public and state funding before looking to raise any student costs to ensure accessible and affordable education, as well as have a deep understanding of the social, political, economic and legal context of the state of California.

A candidate must also have a “demonstrated track record of advocacy for diversity, equity and inclusion,” according to the list of criteria.

The search for the next president is confidential to protect candidates, but there will be opportunities for public comment during the two forums sponsored by the College Futures Foundation. The forums will gather input from a variety of stakeholders, including higher education associations and workforce development fields. These forums will take place Dec. 13 at UC Davis and Jan. 14 at UCLA.

The Board of Regents hopes to announce the next UC president in spring 2020.

Contact Maria Young at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @maria_myoung.