Frequently Asked Questions

What is the timeframe for the presidential selection process?

President Jim Wagner announced in September 2015 that he would retire as president of Emory University at the end of August 2016. The selection process to identify his successor began soon after the president’s announcement and will continue until a new president is named.

Selecting the next president for Emory is a critically important endeavor. The entire process will take several months and is anticipated to conclude by summer 2016. While time is a factor, ultimately the most important goal is to find the right individual to lead Emory.

Who will select the next president? Who makes the final decision?

A 14-member Presidential Selection Committee was approved by the Board of Trustees in November 2015 and has been charged with conducting the presidential selection process. The Emory University Board of Trustees ultimately makes the final decision.

Who chairs the Presidential Selection Committee?

The 14-member Presidential Selection Committee is chaired by John Morgan, who also serves as chair of the Emory University Board of Trustees. Mr. Morgan is an alumnus of both Oxford College and Goizueta Business School and has served on the Board of Trustees since 1996.

How was the membership of the Presidential Selection Committee determined?

The chair of Emory’s Board of Trustees, John Morgan, with the support of Emory’s Board of Trustees Executive Committee, assembled a small group of trustees to serve as an Advisory Committee on the Presidential Selection Process. These trustees — all Emory alumni — are Laura Hardman, Jonathan K. Layne, and Teresa M. Rivero.

The Advisory Committee designed the framework for the presidential selection process, including the development of the Presidential Selection Committee. The Presidential Selection Committee was approved by the full Board of Trustees on November 13, 2015.

Is there broad representation on the Presidential Selection Committee?

Yes. The Board of Trustees chair and the Advisory Committee on the Presidential Selection Process exercised great care and attention to develop a committee that represents the broad spectrum of interests in the Emory community and is the appropriate size for such a complex assignment.

The committee comprises a diverse cross-section of highly engaged individuals who represent the many stakeholders’ interests.

A list of the Presidential Selection Committee members, including bios, can be found on the presidential selection web site.

Are staff represented on the Presidential Selection Committee?

Susan Cruse, Senior Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations, represents both the executive and staff perspective. Additionally, Peter Barnes, Vice President for Human Resources, and Allison Dykes, Vice President and Secretary of the University, are key resources to the Presidential Selection Committee.

Staff members, as well as other stakeholders, will be given an opportunity to have input into the position description/prospectus, the characteristics desired for the next president, and the criteria for selection.

Has an executive search firm been selected?

Yes. The committee has selected Spencer Stuart, an international company with considerable experience in university presidential searches, as its executive search partner. Spencer Stuart has consulted with Emory on numerous executive searches over the past several years.

How will the Emory community be informed about the progress of the selection process?

The Emory community will be kept informed throughout the selection process via several forms of communication.

A presidential selection web site serves as the official, central hub of news and information related to the selection process. The position description and other documents will be posted on the web site as they are available.

Information also will be available in Emory Report, the university’s official source of news and information, which is distributed to all faculty, staff, students, and trustees.

Additionally, at key milestones during the process, the chair of the Presidential Selection Committee, John Morgan, will share information with the Emory community through messages emailed to faculty, students, staff, and alumni.

Will the position profile/description be posted to the web site so that the Emory community knows what type of candidates the Presidential Selection Committee is seeking?

Yes, the position description/prospectus will be posted as soon as it is available.

Will there be opportunities for input from the Emory community?

Absolutely. Input from the Emory community is essential and welcome. The presidential selection web site has a mechanism for providing input to the Presidential Selection Committee.

In addition to meetings that were held in late 2015 with the University Senate (which included faculty, staff, and students) and the Emory Alumni Board, the Presidential Selection Committee has created subcommittees that is hosting forums and conducting surveys with faculty, staff, students, alumni, physicians, and other stakeholders during the month of January 2016.

The goal is to engage a broad range of Emory constituencies whose perspectives are invaluable to the selection process. Input gathered from these forums will help inform and shape the prospectus, which in part is a job description, but will also include the strategic opportunities, the aspirations, and deeply held and shared values of Emory, as well as the leadership qualities that will be pivotal in the identification and recruitment of potential candidates. Additionally, this input and prospectus serve as a starting point for the successful candidate and provides a broad framework of the campus community's support of Emory's agenda for the future.

Will there be opportunities to discuss the presidential selection in community forums rather than just posting information to a web site?

Yes. Selecting a new president represents an exciting, invigorating moment in Emory’s history, and it is an opportunity for the entire community to provide input on their aspirations for Emory’s next president. In addition to active engagement with stakeholders by the Presidential Selection Committee, we anticipate that this topic will be on the agendas of the university’s governance groups, and that the resulting input will be shared with the Presidential Selection Committee.

When will we know who the potential candidates are?

While the Presidential Selection Committee is committed to transparency and ongoing communications during the process, the recruitment of a university president — by its very nature and in all fairness to potential candidates — must be characterized by a highly confidential process. Therefore, in order to maintain the integrity of the selection process, it is highly unlikely that names of potential candidates will be made available broadly or publicly at any time during the process.

Is it possible to approach or contact individual members of the Presidential Selection Committee?

Members of the Presidential Selection Committee are taking on an enormous responsibility and have agreed to maintain strict confidentiality throughout the process. To provide them with the opportunity to focus on their important responsibility, it is best to contact the committee with a suggestion or a question through a dedicated e-mail address at

Additionally, the presidential selection web site serves as the official, central hub for news and information — and includes a mechanism for asking questions and submitting input directly to the Presidential Selection Committee. All questions and input submitted here will be read and considered by members of the committee.

Will the input submitted to the web site be posted so the entire Emory community has access to this information?

No. In order to maintain confidentiality and to encourage broad participation, input submitted by individuals will not be posted for others to see and will be shared only with the Presidential Search Committee and the executive search firm, Spencer Stuart.

How important is it that a potential candidate have both an academic and business (i.e. corporate America or entrepreneurial) background?

The needs and aspirations of Emory will determine the specific attributes required of candidates, and those needs and aspirations will be identified through multiple engagement sessions with stakeholders from across the Emory community.

How will the Presidential Selection Committee ensure that the values and ethics of Emory are given equal weight when considering the "business" of a university? Along those lines, how do the trustees or a selection committee convey the intangible values of a university to a candidate?

The diversity of the Presidential Selection Committee, and the balance of perspectives they represent, will go a long way to ensure that the values and ethics of Emory are balanced with the business of the university. The values, aspirations, and ethos of Emory University will be collected from the community and will inform the presidential prospectus. The prospectus will, we believe, represent the intangible values of our community, and will serve as our guide for identifying the best president.

How will Oxford College be presented during the presidential selection process? What message will the new administration get about Oxford?

We are fortunate to have a member of the Board of Trustees, Teresa Rivero, serving on the Oxford College dean search. Ms. Rivero is a former president of the Emory Alumni Board. She also served on the Advisory Committee for the Presidential Selection Process and is chair of the Campus Life Committee of the Board of Trustees. She, among others, will be an advisor to the Presidential Selection Committee to make sure that it pays careful attention to how we communicate the leadership transition and strategic planning for Oxford to the candidates. As an Oxford alumnus himself, Presidential Selection Committee Chair and Board Chair John Morgan also will make how we present Oxford a priority. On some level, the future direction of Oxford will also be a responsibility of the incoming dean, the provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, and the incoming president.

How (or does) the Presidential Selection Committee plan to identify non-traditional types of candidates?

The committee has engaged an executive search firm, Spencer Stuart, to help identify potential candidates. The Presidential Selection Committee will seek nominations from within, and by, the Emory community and from others with a desire to help in this process. The committee may make some contacts of its own to discuss the opportunity with interested potential candidates. And of course we will advertise and promote the opportunity widely.

Given the changing landscape of universities including focus on online courses, rising costs, etc., what attributes are you looking for in a candidate?

Challenges in higher education are greater now than ever. Higher education is a part of the national dialogue on issues such as affordability and cost, the degree of preparedness of graduated students to flourish in our changing economy, the relevance of a college experience, and diversity in all its facets, to name just a few. The Presidential Selection Committee will be responsible for ensuring the goals and challenges are identified and presented to the candidates and that the next president is able to meet and exceed these challenges.

What if I have questions about the presidential selection process?

Anyone who has questions is encouraged to contact the Presidential Selection Committee at Additionally, the presidential selection web site has a mechanism for submitting questions.