Search Guidelines

(First Adopted August 2000; Amended August 2001; Amended March 2014; Amended March 2021)



The Mission and Goals of the University of South Alabama are set forth in official university documents, including the current Undergraduate and Graduate Bulletin, and are incorporated by reference herein.


This section will be reviewed, revised, and updated by the Presidential Search Committee. The intent of this section is to highlight expected qualifications for prospective candidates and the University's constituents. It will be the duty of the Search Committee to identify candidates who best demonstrate these qualifications and present them to the Board of Trustees for consideration.


        • Demonstrated ability to lead a large, complex educational institution.

        • Proven ability to set a clear, positive agenda for the organization and to achieve excellent results.

        • An earned doctorate in an appropriate discipline. In lieu of an earned doctorate, must possess outstanding training and exemplary record of success in the administration of a large educational organization.

        • Proven ability to comprehend and deal with the distinct needs and interests of a complex, comprehensive institution that includes undergraduate and graduate programs, as well as a medical college and hospitals.


        • Demonstrates integrity in all situations; takes clear and consistent positions on important issues; and demonstrates intellectual honesty. 

        • Possesses self-discipline and a high-energy level focused toward the University's goals.

        • Exemplifies the role of a Servant Leader and believes that those served should grow as persons by becoming healthier, wiser, freer, and more autonomous, thereby more likely themselves to become servants.

        • Demonstrates respect for others; recognizes the strengths and contributions of university faculty, staff, students, alumni, and supporters, and demonstrates a consistent and sincere concern for them and their feelings; and practices a high degree of objectivity and fairness in all situations.

        • Demonstrates a commitment to enhancing racial, gender, and ethnic diversity and equal opportunities throughout the institution.


        • Articulates a clear vision and leads the organization toward it.

        • Demonstrates passion, conviction, and commitment to making a positive difference.

        • Clearly communicates performance expectations.

        • Holds people accountable for their professional commitments.

        • Is willing to share power and influence to benefit the organization.

        • Is willing to gather constituent input without compromising timely decision-making.

        • Has effective interpersonal skills for coaching and managing, and is capable of gently but relentlessly enforcing the organization's standards of performance.

        • Recognizes a need for a strong executive leadership team to assist with organizational success.


        • Excellent ability to communicate, both verbally and in writing.

        • Committed to open and timely communication throughout the organization.

        • Is an effective listener, gives feedback, asks questions, and summarizes.

        • Encourages the free exchange of ideas and opinions in a collegial manner regardless of job level, age, gender, race, or economic status.

        • Asks students, staff, faculty, alumni, and others for input and makes time available for them.

        • Works to establish and enrich communication opportunities with key constituents.

        • Can effectively articulate the many needs of the University to governmental and resource-providing bodies.


        • Has significant experience in planning and managing large budgets and a comprehensive understanding of all financial operations and issues in a large, complex public institution.


        • Demonstrates substantial prior experience and success with fundraising and resources acquisition.

        • Fully understands the University's vision, mission, and development plan.

        • Is motivated and willing to devote a high degree of personal involvement and commitment to leading and directing resources efforts.

        • Possesses ability to work effectively with government funding entities at all levels to secure an equitable share of resources for the institution.


    At such time as there is a vacancy in the presidency of the University, a nationally recognized search firm will be engaged to work in concert with the appointed Search Committee, utilizing appropriate national standards and procedures, to provide a slate of candidates. The search consultant will be responsible for conducting background investigations and securing additional information on all candidates, and shall maintain the confidentiality of the files of all candidates. Within six months from the date the list of finalists is submitted, the Board will select the new president.

    Any provision of these Guidelines inconsistent with the foregoing hereby is deemed amended to conform herewith.


The following procedures are for the Board’s consideration at the outset of the search process:

      • Discuss issues of confidentiality and openness in the search process.

      • Resolve how to handle potential candidacy of any interim or acting president.

      • Decide when the next president should assume office.

      • Set a preliminary budget for the search.

      • Set the range of compensation for the next president.

      • Review and modify, as necessary, policies on presidential performance reviews and contracts.

      • Consider the role of the outgoing president

      • Identify the tasks the Search Committee must perform and approve a written charge to identify and recommend to the Board an appropriate pool of qualified finalists.

      • Review the Board's role in the course of the search. 

      • Appoint a Search Committee representing the institution's major constituencies, including the Board of Trustees, faculty, staff, students, alumni, and the community. Care shall be taken to appoint a Search Committee that, in its totality, gives due weight to the gender, racial, and ethnic diversity of the student body and the community.


        • Four (4) Trustees appointed by the Chair pro tempore- one to be designated by the Chair as chair of the Search Committee, one as vice chair, one as secretary and one as a member of the committee.

        • Four (4) faculty members - the President of the Faculty Senate and three (3) full-time, tenured faculty members appointed by the Chair pro tempore of the Board, at least one of whom represents the Division of Health Sciences.

        • Three (3) students - the President of the Student Government Association (SGA), and one (1) undergraduate student and one (1) graduate student from the student body at large, both appointed by the Chair pro tempore.

        • Four (4) University administrators- Three (3) non-academic administrators, including at least one (1) from the University Hospitals, and one (1) academic administrator at the rank of dean or higher, all appointed by the Chair pro tempore of the Board.

        • One (1) member of the USA National Alumni Association Board of Directors, appointed by the Chair pro tempore of the Board.

        • The Chair pro tempore of the Board of Trustees, or the Vice Chair in the absence of the Chair (or, in the absence of both, a Trustee appointed by the Chair) serves ex officio on the Search Committee with full voting rights.

        • One (1) community representative from the region primarily served by the University of South Alabama, appointed by the Chair pro tempore of the Board. 

        • The Chair pro tempore of the Board shall appoint a non-committee member to assist the secretary in carrying out his/her responsibilities and in the coordination of the search, and to serve as liaison with any professional search consultant engaged pursuant to these guidelines.

        • The President or Acting President shall not be involved in matters related to the Search Committee process.

      • The Board shall use one or more search organizations to help generate a pool of candidates.

      • The Board shall otherwise participate in the search process as it sees fit.

      • Upon receipt of the Search Committee's list of finalists, the Board of Trustees will vote to accept or reject the slate of candidates for on-campus interviews and arrange for Board members' participation in interviews.

      • The Board will coordinate and conduct finalist interviews by Board members.

      • Upon completion of all interviews, the Board will evaluate the respective qualifications of the finalists and obtain input from appropriate constituent groups and individuals.

      • Selection of the President shall be majority vote of the Board.


      • Review relevant passages in bylaws, codes, and state regulations.

      • Set up a tentative schedule for the search process.

      • Update Leadership Statement.

      • Communicate timely news about the structure, timing, process, and progress of the search to the major constituents. 

      • Recommend a search firm to the Board of Trustees to increase the pool of candidates and assist with identifying those candidates who would otherwise not apply.

      • Prepare an announcement/advertisement for the position to include:
        • Position
        • Minimal Credentials required
        • Website address directly to Leadership Statement
        • Closing date for applications
        • Equal Opportunity Employer – Minorities/Females/Veterans/Disabled statement.

      • Advertise in appropriate and diverse national publications.

      • After interviewing all of the semifinalists, the committee selects a candidate or candidates to recommend to the Board as finalist(s) to be invited for campus interviews. These selections should be by consensus if possible, but if not, then by any means determined appropriate by the chair of the committee.

      • After forwarding its recommendations to the Board of Trustees, the Search Committee will continue to play an active role in the search process by helping to coordinate campus visits and interviews.

Search Committee Code of Ethics

Presidential Search Committee Members:

  1. Accept their responsibility to protect the integrity of the institution, as well as the integrity of all prospective candidates, semi-final candidates, and finalists.

  2. Acknowledge that only the Chair pro tempore of the Board of Trustees is authorized to speak to the news media on behalf of the Board, and only the chair of the Search Committee is authorized to speak to the news media on behalf of the Search Committee.

  3. Certify that they are not candidates for the position.

  4. Agree to disclose promptly to the committee any appearance of real or potential conflict of interest in a relationship with a prospect or candidate.

  5. Acknowledge that information management is a crucial component of the search committee's work. This work includes information developed and received about prospects, candidates, and their employing institutions. Specifically, committee members will adhere to the following principles:

      • Respect the absolute confidentiality of all prospects and candidates by not revealing the identity of or any other information about prospects and candidates before or after the committee completes its work.
      • Be fair, accurate, honest, and responsible in managing information related to the search.
      • Guard against inaccuracies, carelessness, bias, and distortion made by either emphasis or omission of information.
      • Strive to treat issues impartially and handle controversial subjects dispassionately, understanding that prospects and candidates who have held executive positions and made difficult decisions have not been in positions to win popularity contests.
      • Give accurate and complete reports on candidates to the search committee chair.

  6. Place the best interests of the institution ahead of all special and personal interests and use common sense and good judgment in applying ethical principles to search work. 

  7. Consider the letter and spirit of this statement to be a matter of personal responsibility.

Adapted from the Illustrative Code of Ethics model presented in Presidential Search Guidelines and Directory, a publication of the Association of Governing Boards.