Flowers bloom outside the President's house on the Horseshoe, where the American flag and the South Carolina flag fly.

University of South Carolina selects leading recruiter for presidential search

R. William Funk & Associates has placed hundreds of presidents and chancellors

The University of South Carolina has selected R. William Funk & Associates to assist with its search for a new president, the Presidential Candidate Search Committee’s Chair Thad Westbrook announced Tuesday (July 20). The president of the University of South Carolina serves as the chief executive of the entire University of South Carolina system and of the system’s flagship research university in Columbia.

The Funk & Associates consulting firm, based in Dallas, specializes in recruitment for roles in higher education and will begin work immediately to find a replacement for University of South Carolina Interim President Harris Pastides, who has agreed to serve in the position until a successor is found.

Funk & Associates has extensive experience conducting successful searches for university presidents and chancellors across the United States. The firm’s recruiting strategies have helped place many impressive candidates, including minorities and women, at leading universities throughout the country and within South Carolina,” said Ernest Jenkins, chair of the Faculty Senate for the Palmetto College campuses and a member of the Presidential Candidate Search Committee. “These advantages, and their history of outreach to members of university communities, make them a compelling choice to assist us.”

R. William Funk & Associates has successfully recruited presidents or chancellors to 13 of the 14 institutions in the Southeastern Conference, as well as at hundreds of colleges and universities throughout the United States, including Rutgers University, Ohio State University, University of Louisville, Indiana University, University of North Carolina, University of Virginia, Purdue University, Michigan State University, University of Texas and San Diego State University. The firm recruited the current presidents of Clemson University and the College of Charleston.

R. William Funk & Associates previously recruited Joan Gabel to be provost at the University of South Carolina in 2015; Gabel is now president of the University of Minnesota. The firm assisted previously with the University of South Carolina’s presidential search in 2008 and with the university’s searches for the chief executive officer of the My Carolina Alumni Association and for the president/chief executive officer of the university’s Educational Foundation.

Lou Kennedy, a University of South Carolina alumna who serves as president, chief executive officer and owner of Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation, and as an advisory member of the Presidential Candidate Search Committee said, “For the business community, and for university donors, results matter — just as they do for Funk & Associates. I am excited about the next steps in the process of finding the right candidate to lead our university because I know, with the help of Funk & Associates, we will find the best qualified person — from among a diverse pool of candidates — to deliver results for students, families, alumni, and the entire state.”

The firm’s founder, R. William “Bill” Funk, will lead the recruiting effort, personally interact with the candidate pool, and report directly to the Search Committee and the university’s Board of Trustees.

“We don’t believe in a ‘formula’ approach to president searches,” said Funk, who has been conducting higher education searches for nearly 40 years. “Each institution is different and there are precedents that must be honored when organizing and executing the search process. At the same time, we are particularly proud of our role in bringing forward outstanding women and minority candidates for consideration by the search committees with which we have worked.”

Funk & Associates will benefit from information gathered by the Search Committee since May through 16 listening sessions and a survey instrument. To find out more about the search and provide feedback, visit the search webpage. Solicitation of feedback from university and community stakeholders will continue through the outset of the fall semester, when Funk and the Search Committee will conduct meetings virtually and in person across the University of South Carolina system. These opinions will contribute to the creation of a leadership profile that will be used to advertise the position of president and to seek nominations and applications.

Operating confidentially under the guidance of the Search Committee, the firm will recruit from among candidates across the United States and internationally, conduct extensive background checks and facilitate the Search Committee’s interviews with those who are best qualified.

“I’m impressed by Bill Funk’s overall track record placing chief executives at great colleges and universities in a timely but thorough manner, and I appreciate just how diverse those placements have been across time,” said Columbia Student Body President Alex Harrell, a member of the Search Committee. “We’re confident in Mr. Funk and his team because he knows the state of South Carolina. He knows the Southeastern Conference, and he knows USC.”

Links to stories about recent searches conducted by Funk & Associates:

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