The Quad

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the time frame for the presidential selection process?

President Claire E. Sterk announced in November 2019 that she would step down as president of Emory University at the end of August 2020. The selection process to identify her successor began soon after her announcement and will continue until the Emory University Board of Trustees appoints a new president.

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 2020. While time is a factor, ultimately the most important goal is to find the right person to lead Emory.

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

In December 2019 the Board of Trustees approved a 12-member Presidential Selection Committee that has been charged with conducting the presidential selection process. The Board of Trustees makes the final decision on the next president for Emory University.

Who chairs the Presidential Selection Committee?

The 12-member Presidential Selection Committee is chaired by Robert C. Goddard III, who also serves as chair of the Board of Trustees.

How was the membership of the Presidential Selection Committee determined?

The chair of Emory’s Board of Trustees, Robert C. Goddard III, with the counsel and support of the board’s Executive Committee, developed the Presidential Selection Committee. Mr. Goddard requested that Emory’s academic deans submit nominations for faculty to serve on the committee. The Board of Trustees approved the Presidential Selection Committee on December 19, 2019. A list of the Presidential Selection Committee members, including bios, is on the presidential selection committee page. The committee comprises talented people who are committed to upholding Emory’s institutional goals of diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout the presidential selection process.

Has an executive search firm been selected?

The Board of Trustees has appointed the Presidential Selection Committee to undertake the work of identifying, screening, and interviewing candidates for the presidency and selecting a finalist to be voted on and approved by the Board of Trustees. The committee has engaged the executive search firm Isaacson, Miller to guide and assist with the process and has also engaged Ilene Nagel of Education Executives as an adviser to the search.

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.

The presidential search website serves as the official, central hub of news and information related to the selection process.

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

Additionally, at key milestones during the process, the chair of the Presidential Selection Committee, Robert C. Goddard III, will share information with the Emory community through messages emailed to faculty, students, staff, alumni, and health care professionals. These messages are also posted to the presidential search website.

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

The position description, developed with input from the entire Emory community, is included in the Presidential Selection Prospectus.

Will there be opportunities for input from the Emory community?

Absolutely. Input from the Emory community is essential and welcome. The presidential selection website has a mechanism for providing input to the Presidential Selection Committee. You can also take a survey on the presidential search.

In addition to meetings that were held in late 2019 with the leaders of Emory’s major constituencies—undergraduate and graduate students, alumni, faculty, staff, deans, the President’s Leadership Team, and Emory Healthcare—the selection committee has and will continue to engage a broad range of Emory constituencies whose perspectives are invaluable to the selection process. Input gathered helped inform and shape the prospectus, which in part is a job description, but also includes the strategic opportunities, aspirations, and deeply held, shared values of Emory, as well as the leadership qualities that will be pivotal in the identification and recruitment of potential candidates.

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

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 and its next president. In addition to active engagement with stakeholders by the Presidential Selection Committee, we anticipate that this topic will continue to be on the agendas of the university’s governance groups, such as the Faculty Council, the Student Government Association, and the Employee Council, and that the resulting input will be shared directly 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 a highly confidential process. Therefore, in order to maintain the integrity of the selection process, names of potential candidates will not be available broadly or publicly at any time during the process. Members of the selection committee will be advised about confidentiality throughout the process, and they may not discuss candidates outside the selection committee meetings.

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 email address at

Additionally, the presidential search website serves as the official, central hub for news and information—and includes a mechanism for contacting the Presidential Selection Committee. Members of the committee will read and consider all questions and input submitted here.

Will the input submitted to the website 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 Selection Committee and the executive search firm.

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 forms of engagement 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 and the selection committee convey the intangible values of a university to a candidate?

The members of the Presidential Selection Committee are committed to ensuring a diversity of perspectives and to balancing the values and ethics of Emory with the business of the university. The values, aspirations, and ethos of Emory University will inform the entire selection process and will serve as the committee’s 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?

The Presidential Selection Committee understands and embraces the distinctive place that Oxford College holds in higher education and will represent and emphasize its importance to the Emory community to both presidential candidates and to the new administration. Emory would not be Emory without Oxford.

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

The committee has engaged the executive search firm Isaacson, Miller 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. We will also advertise and promote the opportunity widely.

Given the changing landscape of universities, including focus on online courses, rising costs, and the like, 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 search website has a mechanism for submitting questions.