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HR / Labor Relations

Responsible Office:

Procedure Title:
Presidential Search, Guidelines for Conducting

Document Number:

Effective Date:
September 23, 1997

This procedure item applies to:
State-Operated Campuses

Table of Contents

Related Procedures
Other Related Information


The legal authority to appoint the president or chief administrative officer of a state-operated campus of the State University of New York is vested in the University Board of Trustees by Section 355(2)(g) of the NYS Education Law. The council of each such campus is given responsibility for recommending a candidate or candidates to the Board by Section 356(3)(a). Section 6004 (c) gives this same power to the Trustees of the College of Environmental Science and Forestry. The Board of Trustees may also appoint a president or chief administrative officer in the event that no council recommendation is made, or where a council recommendation fails to comply with the Trustees' standards and procedures.

The Board of Trustees considers the selection of campus presidents to be one of the most important of its duties. The procedures below are intended to assist the councils of state-operated campuses in the search for, and nomination of, individuals to fill the position of president. It should be noted that the term "council" in the following is intended to refer equally to the Board of Trustees of the State University College of Environmental Science and Forestry.


Preliminary Steps in the Search Process

1.    As soon as is practical after it is known that a presidential vacancy will occur, the council chair shall consult with the chancellor for advice and instructions in planning the search and the criteria to be used in the selection of a new president.

2.    Unless otherwise agreed upon in advance by the chancellor and the council chair, the search committee shall consist of four members of the council (including the chair), six members of the full-time teaching faculty of the campus, one student, one alumni representative, one campus-related foundation representative, one academic dean, and one professional or support staff member.

3.   The council chair shall appoint a chair of the search committee. Generally, the council chair also serves as the chair of the search committee. If the council chair is unwilling or unable to serve as chair of the search committee, the council chair shall appoint another member of the council to serve as chair of the search committee.

4.    Taking care to assure that faculty representation on the search committee speaks for a broad spectrum of faculty opinion, the faculty shall elect its representatives to the search committee by secret ballot at an open session of the faculty governance group, at which a quorum of the teaching faculty are present. The council chair shall invite the appropriate campus and community groups to submit recommendations for all other positions on the search committee, and shall make the appointments to the remaining positions on the search committee from the recommendations submitted.

5.    The Chancellor shall designate a liaison representative to serve as a nonvoting member of the presidential search committee. That representative shall have full access to the files of the committee, and shall be responsible for reporting at regular intervals to the Chancellor and the Trustees regarding the progress of the search and the work of the search committee.

6.    The council chair and the Chancellor, or the Chancellor's representative, shall agree on an expected timetable for the search and nomination process.

7.    The Chancellor's office shall provide a list of nationally recognized organizations with established expertise in academic recruitment and screening from which the council shall select one to assist in its search.

8.    A campus staff liaison shall be appointed to assist the search committee and to coordinate the clerical work of the committee. A budget for the search should be determined in conjunction with the chief financial officer of the campus and arrangements made for a search office and support staff. The budget should be sufficient to cover the cost of hiring a professional search consultant, advertising the position, travel of candidates to interviews as well as the usual telephone, postage and duplicating expenses associated with a search.

Internal Candidates - (if applicable)

Should anyone from inside the campus wish to apply for the presidency, that individual must do so by way of a formal application prior to the closing date for the receipt of nominations. Any internal candidate who does not formally apply for the position and participate in the entire search process will not be considered for the position. Interim or acting presidents may not be candidates for the presidency unless they have received the written permission of the Chancellor to participate in the search process.

The Search Process

1.    At the first search committee meeting, the search chair, along with the Chancellor's representative, should acquaint the committee members with the search procedures in general and with any specific instructions from the council, the Chancellor, and the Trustees. The search committee should be advised that the council is required to send a list of no fewer than three names of acceptable candidates to the Chancellor for consideration, and that the council may submit its opinion on the relative strengths and weaknesses of each candidate whose name is forwarded for consideration by the Chancellor. The timetable for the search should be presented to the committee members and a commitment obtained from each member to attend all meetings and all interviews.

2.    At the first search committee meeting the importance of confidentiality shall be discussed. All members of the committee must agree to preserve the confidentiality of the search and the names of all candidates. If at any time throughout the search, there is evidence that a member of the committee has breached the confidentiality of the search, that member may be dismissed from the committee by a majority vote of the committee. The decision of whether or not to replace the dismissed member shall be in the sole discretion of the committee.

3.    In consultation with the chancellor's representative and the search consultant, the committee should assess the needs of the institution and the type and style of leadership desired in a new president. Combining the results of this assessment and the required criteria set forth by the Chancellor, the search committee shall develop, and submit to the chancellor (or the chancellor's representative) for approval, the material to be used in the advertisement of the vacancy and the recruitment of candidates for the position.

4.    The vacancy shall be advertised nationally. The search consultant shall assist the search committee in recruiting and evaluating candidates.

5.    The members of the search committee shall review all applications and nominations for the position. Rejection letters should be sent to those who do not meet the minimum qualifications for the position.

6.    From the remaining pool of candidates, the committee shall select a group of approximately 20 names which, the members feel on preliminary review, appear to be the strongest applicants. Reference checks shall be conducted on this group of candidates by the committee members. It is recommended that these reference checks be done by telephone. At this stage, only references named by the candidates shall be contacted so that the candidates’ confidentiality can be preserved.

7.    When reference checking has been completed, the committee shall meet to review the applications of all candidates and to discuss the information obtained during the reference calls. The committee will then select a group of approximately 12 candidates to be interviewed at a site convenient to the committee and to the candidates. The site selected for the interviews must be designed to assure that the confidentiality of the names of the candidates to be interviewed will be maintained. Prior to the interviews, the search consultant should conduct a thorough review of each candidate’s credentials, and provide the search committee with the results of that review.

8.    All members of the search committee should attend the personal interviews. The chancellor’s representative will also attend these interviews. The interview will last from between 60 and 90 minutes. The search consultant, in consultation with the chancellor's representative, will assist the search committee in developing a list of questions to be asked of all candidates. Time should also be allotted during this interview to allow each candidate to ask questions of the committee.

9.    Following these interviews, the committee should meet to discuss and review the qualifications of the candidates interviewed. A group of approximately five candidates should then be selected to visit the campus. Where appropriate, the candidate's spouse, or other family members or associates, may also be invited to visit the campus. At this stage, candidates will be asked to allow the search committee to check references, other than those names provided by the candidates. Unsuccessful candidates should be notified prior to the release to the public of the names of candidates to be invited to the campus.

10.  Up to this point in the search process, the names of the candidates have been kept strictly confidential by the committee. When the finalists are scheduled to visit campus, their names are released to the public, along with general information about their background and qualifications. Their names and curriculum vitae shall also be forwarded to the Board of Trustees at this stage, although Trustees and the Chancellor may - in strictest confidence - request access to search committee documents, including candidates' curriculum vitae, at any point in the process. However, all information regarding the reference checks, committee discussion and voting on the various applicants is still strictly confidential and may not be divulged at any time.

11.  Campus visits are designed to allow a large number of campus and community members to meet and hear from each candidate. In planning these visits, the committee should remember that at this stage of the process they are recruiting the candidates as well as evaluating them.

12.  All members of the council should actively participate in the interviews of the candidates who visit the campus.

13.  The chancellor shall be given an opportunity to meet with and interview candidates, either at the semi-finalist interview stage or at the campus visit stage. The timing of such interviews shall be at the discretion of the chancellor. The chancellor may, at this time, also require that the candidates be interviewed by the provost or other members of the chancellor's senior staff.

14.  Prior to any final vote being taken by the search committee or the council, the members of the Board of Trustees shall also be given an opportunity to meet with and interview all finalists.

The Selection Process

1.    The search committee meets and deliberates the merits of each candidate who visited the campus. It is recommended that all council members be invited to join the search committee at this meeting to hear the search committee's discussions regarding the relative merits of each candidate. The committee is strongly urged to forward as many acceptable names as possible to the council for consideration.

2.    The committee shall forward to the council the list of all acceptable candidates, along with a short (one page) synopsis of the relative strengths and weaknesses of each candidate.

3.    The council then meets and deliberates the relative merits of each of the candidates whose names have been forwarded to them by the search committee. While the recommendation of candidates to the chancellor and the Board of Trustees is the prerogative of the council alone, consensus between the council and the search committee should be sought and encouraged. Serious disagreement about the final candidates recommended by the council, particularly any disagreement that clearly follows major constituency lines, suggests a potentially serious problem with the search process.

4.    The council shall recommend three acceptable candidates to the chancellor for consideration. The council may submit its opinion on the relative strengths and weaknesses of each candidate whose name is forwarded for consideration by the chancellor.

5.    The chancellor, in compliance with statute, shall provide to the Board of Trustees a copy of the recommendations made by the council. The chancellor shall then recommend a candidate to the Board of Trustees for its consideration. It is anticipated that the Trustees, or a committee of the Board, will meet with the candidate in executive session before a final presentation and vote. The Board of Trustees, by law, reserves the right to direct that the council reopen the search if no recommendation is made by the chancellor, or if such recommendation is made but does not comply with the rules and standards established by the Board of Trustees, then to make such appointment as is by them deemed necessary.

Reopened Searches - (if applicable)

Should the chancellor or the Board of Trustees decide that the circumstances warrant the reopening of a search, it is within their discretion to require that the council chair appoint, in accordance with these guidelines, an entirely new search committee.


There are no forms relevant to this procedure.

Related Procedures

There are no related procedures relevant to this procedure.

Other Related Information

There is no other information relevant to this procedure.


The following links to FindLaw's New York State Laws are provided for users' convenience; it is not the official site for the State of New York laws. 

NYS Education Law §355(2)(g) and 356(3)(a) (Powers and duties of trustees--administrative and fiscal functions and Councils of state-operated institutions; powers and duties)

NYS Education Law §6004 (College Board of Trustees; powers and duties)


In case of questions, readers are advised to refer to the New York State Legislature site for the menu of New York State Consolidated.


State University of New York Board of Trustees Resolution 97-127, dated September 23, 1997, replaces guidelines adopted by Resolution 91-227.


Executive Search and Recruitment Service Contracts – Memorandum to community college presidents/business officers, state-operated campuses business officers/purchasing agents from the assistant vice chancellor for business services, dated December 17, 2001.


There are no appendices relevant to this procedure.