Introduction

On February 7, 2015 President Dennis J. Murray announced his intention to step down at the end of the 2015-16 academic year. When he completes his current contract on June 30, 2016, President Murray will have led the College for 36 years, overseeing a period of exceptional growth and transformation.  In his remarks to faculty, staff, and students, President Murray has emphasized that "the College today is a strong institution with exciting plans for the future, and for that reason, it seems like a logical time for new leadership."

A 15-member Presidential Search Committee, led by Ross A. Mauri '80, General Manager, z Systems, IBM Corporation and Vice Chair of the Marist Board of Trustees, has been appointed to recommend candidates for Marist's next president to the full Board of Trustees for approval. 

The Presidential Search Committee will strive throughout the coming year to ensure that its process is both transparent and inclusive.  This website has been designed to provide the Marist College community with regular updates on the search process, and as an additional way to collect and consider stakeholder input.  

The Committee has decided to conduct its work with the confidentiality necessary to attract the highest-quality candidates without jeopardizing their current employment statuses, but it will keep the community informed to the fullest extent possible as the search progresses.

 

Recent Updates

May 11, 2016

MEMORANDUM TO THE MARIST COLLEGE COMMUNITY

 

FROM: ELLEN HANCOCK, CHAIR OF THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES

SUBJECT: PRESIDENTIAL TRANSITION UPDATE

I am writing the College community to provide an update on the transition process between presidents Dennis J. Murray and David N. Yellen.  First, I would again like to thank Ross Mauri and the members of the Presidential Search Committee for dedicating considerable time and effort to the search process.  The fact that President-elect Yellen was the unanimous choice of both the search committee and the Board of Trustees is a testament to the quality of their work, and I am grateful for their service.  

The Board knows full well that this period of transition is a critical one, and is looking forward to supporting David Yellen as he assumes his role as Marist’s fourth president on July 1, 2016.  A number of transition-related tasks have already been completed, and others will be addressed over the next two months.  

David Yellen has informed us that, prior to taking office, he would like to meet with as many students, faculty, and staff members as possible.  To that end, we have begun scheduling individual and small group meetings with campus representatives.  Because he will have limited availability to visit Marist while completing his duties as Dean and Professor of Law at the Loyola University Chicago School of Law, we will continue these meetings throughout the summer.  When we reconvene for the fall semester there will be opportunities to schedule additional meetings and to more formally introduce him to the campus and local communities.

A number of other transition-related items are also currently underway.  The College has purchased a home for the Yellens, and is facilitating the family’s relocation to Dutchess County.  We are also providing the president-elect with a great deal of information about the College’s history, culture, finances, etc., so that he can become more familiar with our operations.  

Members of the President’s Office staff have begun to facilitate the logistics of the president-elect’s move into the Greystone office, and to archive 37 years’ worth of records from the Murray administration.  The Buildings and Grounds Committee has also identified space in the Cannavino Library that will serve as Dennis Murray’s office as President Emeritus.  

The Board of Trustees will continue to keep the Marist community informed about the transition process, and all updates will be archived on the Marist Presidential Transition Website.  I want to reiterate how critical the campus community’s participation will be in ensuring the success of our new president.  I thank you for your continued engagement, and I know you join me in welcoming President-elect Yellen to the Marist College community.


February 6, 2016

MEMORANDUM TO THE MARIST COLLEGE COMMUNITY

 

FROM: ROSS A. MAURI ’80, CHAIR OF THE PRESIDENTIAL SEARCH COMMITTEE

SUBJECT: INVITATION TO MEET MARIST PRESIDENT-ELECT DAVID YELLEN

On behalf of the Presidential Search Committee and Board of Trustees, I am pleased to share with the Marist community the exciting news that the Board today unanimously approved David Yellen, Dean of the Loyola University Chicago School of Law, to be the fourth President of Marist College. Below you will find the full statement that is being released and posted at http://www.marist.edu/publicaffairs/fourthpresident/.

We invite you to a special meeting Monday, February 8 at 10:00 a.m. in the Nelly Goletti Theatre, where you will hear from President-Elect Yellen and others on this important occasion.

David Yellen Named New President of Marist College 
Loyola University Chicago School of Law Dean and Professor will be just the fourth president in Marist’s 87 years as a college 
Will succeed President Dennis J. Murray, who has held office since 1979 

POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. (February 6, 2016) – David Yellen, Dean and Professor of Law at the Loyola University Chicago School of Law, has been named the fourth President of Marist College following a unanimous vote today of its Board of Trustees. He will succeed President Dennis J. Murray, who announced last year his plan to step down from the position on June 30 after 37 years leading Marist. 

“David Yellen is one of the nation’s top legal educators, an innovative leader highly respected among his peers, and a man of great integrity and commitment to public service,” said Ellen Hancock, Chair of the Board of Trustees. “His work as a law school dean, a faculty member, and an attorney gives him a unique appreciation of the distinctive blend of the liberal arts and pre-professional programs that define the Marist experience and positions him well to lead the College to ever-greater heights.”

Yellen writes and speaks frequently on legal education, and National Jurist recently named him to the 7th position on its list of the “25 Most Influential People in Legal Education,” calling him “an innovator for his leadership in the national dialogue addressing today’s challenges facing legal education.” Under his tenure, National Jurist also named Loyola Chicago University School of Law one of the nation’s ten best law schools for experiential learning, and Yellen and his school both earned reputations as innovators in the delivery of legal education. Yellen implemented new degree programs, including online, helping Loyola Chicago to earn the distinction of enrolling more online students than any other law school in the country. He also created the Dean’s Diversity Council, which helped increase by more than 50 percent the number of students of color enrolled at the school.

Yellen’s appointment comes almost a year to the day after President Murray announced his transition plan and follows an intensive search process, the success of which was due to broad and active engagement on the part of the entire Marist community.

“David’s skills, interests, and leadership style are ideally aligned with Marist’s mission and heritage,” said Ross Mauri ’80, Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees and Chair of the Presidential Search Committee, which consists of a diverse group of fifteen faculty and staff members, trustees, student and alumni representatives. “What the search committee saw throughout his career as an educator and a lawyer was a mutually-beneficial commitment to both student success and public service.” 

Outside of academe, Yellen was appointed Special Master by Cook County Criminal Division Presiding Judge Paul P. Biebel Jr., working to identify inmates who may be entitled to new trials, having suffered torture by a former Chicago police commander.  He also serves on the Illinois Sentencing Policy Advisory Council and is a member of the Board of Directors of Cook County Justice for Children.  He has written extensively on sentencing issues and served as an advisor on white collar crime to President Clinton's transition team. As an attorney, he has also argued a federal criminal case before the United States Supreme Court.  

Yellen earned his J.D., cum laude, from Cornell Law School, and his B.A., magna cum laude, from Princeton University. 

"David has superb academic credentials and a distinguished record of scholarship in the legal field,” said Robert J. Grossman, Professor of Management Studies, Chair of the Faculty Affairs Committee, and Presidential Search Committee member. “As a tenured faculty member and dean, he understands both the critical role the faculty plays in college governance and the importance of supporting faculty in their teaching, research, and service. I also am impressed with David's collaborative approach to leadership and his commitment to social justice, both within his institution and in the community.  I know my colleagues on the faculty join me in welcoming him to Marist." 

Prior to his decade leading the Loyola University Chicago School of Law, Yellen served as a member of the faculty at Hofstra Law School, where he held the Max Schmertz Distinguished Professorship and served as dean from 2001-2004. He served as the Reuschlein Distinguished Visiting Professor at Villanova University School of Law and has also taught at Cornell Law School and New York Law School.  Before launching his academic career, Yellen clerked for a federal judge, practiced law in Washington, D.C., and served as counsel to the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives. 

Yellen will assume office on July 1. He and his wife, Leslie Richards-Yellen, who is Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer and Partner at the law firm of Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP, will relocate from Chicago to Poughkeepsie sometime in the spring. Yellen is originally from New Jersey, and Leslie grew up in Iowa. The couple, who met as law students at Cornell, have three adult daughters, Jordan, Meredith, and Bailey.

“I am honored by this opportunity to lead an incredibly dynamic institution with a growing national and international reputation for educational excellence,” said Yellen. “Under President Murray’s leadership, Marist has achieved many great things. I look forward to working with the College’s talented students, faculty, and staff, as well as its dedicated alumni, parents, and friends to build upon those accomplishments. It was clear to me from the outset of this process that Marist is a special place, where the traditions of its founders find continued expression through the great work of everyone associated with the College, both in and out of the classroom. Leslie and I are excited to join this wonderful community.”         

Upon Yellen’s taking office, President Murray will assume the roles of President Emeritus and Professor of Public Policy. 

“In David Yellen, the Board of Trustees has chosen as the next president of this College someone who has thought broadly and deeply about the future of higher education,” said President Murray. “He also understands the unique nature of Marist, where we have blended the liberal arts with pre-professional programs to create a distinctive educational experience for our students. I am confident that his leadership and his impressive record of developing innovative ways to equip students for personal and professional success will serve Marist well in the years ahead.” 

Yellen has been a member of the American Bar Association’s Task Force on the Future of Legal Education, Co-Chair of the Section on the Law School Dean for the Association of American Law Schools, and a member of the Board of Trustees of Blackburn College in Carlinville, Ill., which, as a member of the Work Colleges Consortium, provides real world experience through a comprehensive “Work, Learning, and Service” approach. 

“David Yellen understands and appreciates Marist's unique heritage, culture, and traditions,” said Paul X. Rinn ’68, President of the Marist Alumni Association. “On behalf of our more than 39,000 alumni around the world, I look forward to working with him to move the College forward." 

Said Timos Pietris, Student Body President and Presidential Search Committee member: "I was very impressed with David's record of commitment to the student experience. He has personally mentored many students, providing valuable academic and professional guidance. I know Marist will benefit greatly from his leadership." 

Chair Mauri said the Presidential Search Committee’s success was due to the thoughtful participation of the entire Marist community, as well as the hard work and cooperation among its members. 

“I want to thank my colleagues on the search committee for their good work over the course of many months,” said Mauri. “All the committee members dedicated themselves to a thorough, fair, and inclusive process, which required a significant investment of time and effort. The committee’s focus from the start was to identify an individual with the balance of intellect, integrity, and experience necessary to lead the College through what will surely be an exciting and challenging time in higher education. With the selection of David Yellen from a field of excellent candidates, I know that we have achieved that important goal.”   

The search committee, which included representatives from the Board of Trustees, the faculty, Dean’s Council, senior administration, staff, Student Government Association, and Alumni Association, partnered with Isaacson, Miller, one of the top executive search firms in the area of higher education. With the firm’s assistance, the committee spent the spring and summer of 2015 conducting extensive listening sessions and interviews with all Marist stakeholders, including full- and part-time faculty members, Heritage Professors, students, staff, alumni/ae, members of the Board of Trustees, parents, retirees, Marist Brothers, members of the Florence branch campus, and other key constituents. From these sessions emerged several common and important themes that were ultimately reflected in the position description, which drew a large and diverse pool of qualified applicants. “The number of top-quality candidates was a testament to the College’s elevated reputation,” Mauri said. 

Yellen will be formally introduced to the college community at a series of meetings on Monday, February 8. 

About Marist College 

Marist College is located in the historic Hudson River Valley and at its branch campus in Florence, Italy. It is a comprehensive, independent institution grounded in the liberal arts.  Marist is dedicated to helping students develop the intellect, character, and skills required for enlightened, ethical, and productive lives in the global community of the 21st century.  The College is consistently recognized for excellence by top organizations like The Princeton Review, which included it in its latest book, Colleges That Create Futures: 50 Schools That Launch Careers By Going Beyond the Classroom. It has also been recognized by U.S. News & World Report (13th Best Regional University), Kiplinger’s Personal Finance (Best Values in Private Colleges), and others.  Though now independent, Marist remains committed to the ideals handed down from its founders, the Marist Brothers: excellence in education, a sense of community, and a commitment to service.  Marist educates 4,700 traditional-age undergraduate students and more than 1,300 adult and graduate students in 46 undergraduate majors and 13 graduate programs, including fully online MBA, MPA, MS, and MA degrees. For more information, visit Marist.edu. 

This statement can be found at http://www.marist.edu/publicaffairs/fourthpresident/, and other information about President-elect Yellen will be added to the site in the coming days and weeks.


January 19, 2016

MEMORANDUM TO THE MARIST COLLEGE COMMUNITY

 

FROM: ROSS A. MAURI ’80, CHAIR OF THE PRESIDENTIAL SEARCH COMMITTEE

SUBJECT: PRESIDENTIAL SEARCH UPDATE

Happy New Year! I'd like to provide the Marist community with an update on the activities of the Presidential Search Committee. In December, the Search Committee conducted in-person interviews with several excellent candidates. Based on these meetings, this initial group was narrowed down to three finalists. Follow-up interviews with the finalists were recently conducted by the Search Committee and members of the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees, and we are working with our search consultants at Isaacson, Miller to check candidate references. We are fortunate that all three finalists are extremely talented and dynamic individuals, any of whom would do an excellent job leading the College going forward.

I understand that many members of the Marist community are feeling anxious about this upcoming transition, and I would like to address the concerns some have raised about the confidential nature of the Committee's work. Several members of the college community have said they believe the search should be opened up and that members of the Marist community should have the opportunity to publicly interview finalists. The Search Committee has received several letters, as well as a formal petition signed by 48 faculty members asking to meet with finalists in open session. On its face, this seems like an extremely reasonable request, but in reality, the decision to conduct a completely open search can have a variety of unintended consequences.

The subject of confidentiality is one of the major issues with which presidential search committees struggle. It's possible to take a variety of approaches, but most private universities don't ask candidates to interview publicly, and there are two main reasons for this approach.

The Search Committee believes that most candidates would want to meet all campus constituents if they were assured they were going to be selected as president. However, we also believe they would be reluctant to do so if they were among several individuals being interviewed. Why would a sitting president or senior administrator at another respected college or university take the risk of going public with their candidacy when they might not be chosen? This could raise questions about loyalty to their own campus and undermine their credibility. A requirement for public interviews would surely eliminate many qualified candidates who are not willing to have their interest in the Marist presidency made public without assurances that they would be offered the position.

John Isaacson, the founder of Isaacson, Miller (one of the most prominent search firms in higher education), framed the issue well. He noted that "…in a private university, especially a more highly ranked one, it is virtually unknown to bring anyone to campus. On occasion, one finalist does come to campus…. [but] in the age of the internet, you cannot explain why you want to leave where you are now to come to a new place. Once anything like an honest answer appears and remains on the internet you will not be able to keep your current job or get another. And, in a more competitive age, sitting presidents, provosts, and deans are intensely tangled with their boards and donors and cannot afford to wrench those relationships which are more crucial than ever. The more successful the candidate has been, the more protective they become."

Second, if the search process were opened up and interviews were conducted by various important stakeholders – faculty, senior administrators, staff, students, alumni, parents – this could result in divided opinions being presented to the Board. If this were the case, it could make some or all of the finalists uncomfortable and result in candidates withdrawing from consideration. What presidential candidate would want to come to Marist knowing that he or she was supported by some groups but opposed by others?

In conclusion, I believe that the true test of the Search Committee's work is its ability to find candidates who fulfill the qualifications outlined in our very ambitious position profile, which was developed based on significant community input. I am confident that the knowledgeable and experienced faculty, Board members, administrators, alumni, and student on the Search Committee will help us achieve this goal.

I wish you all the best for an enjoyable and productive spring semester.


December 18, 2015

MEMORANDUM TO THE MARIST COLLEGE COMMUNITY

 

FROM: ROSS A. MAURI ’80, CHAIR OF THE PRESIDENTIAL SEARCH COMMITTEE

SUBJECT: PRESIDENTIAL SEARCH UPDATE

As the fall semester comes to an end and we prepare for the holiday break, I’d like to provide the campus community with an update on the search for Marist’s next president.

From the beginning, our Board of Trustees sought to have a presidential search process that was as inclusive and transparent as possible without discouraging the best candidates from applying.  We have followed what are considered to be best practices at private, nonprofit colleges.  These practices have produced successful presidential searches elsewhere, and I’m confident they will do the same here at Marist.  To recap our work thus far, let me review a few of our major milestones:

Search firm selection

The Board asked me to chair the search, and the first important task undertaken was the selection of a search firm to guide us in the selection process.  We established a small subcommittee to participate in the process, including the elected chair of the Faculty Affairs Committee (FAC), the elected president of the Marist Alumni Association, and several Board members with experience working with search firms.  We then sent out a request for proposals and received responses from several excellent firms.  The subcommittee was unanimous in recommending Isaacson, Miller for the job, and this recommendation was approved.  Isaacson, Miller is one of the leaders in private, nonprofit college and university searches, and we have been following their advice on how to find the best candidate for Marist.

Search committee composition

The Board asked me to establish a Presidential Search Committee that was representative of all of Marist’s stakeholders: faculty, staff, students, alumni, parents, Trustees, etc.  The Board also wanted to ensure that the Committee was diverse in terms of both race and gender.  I believe we have developed a committee that fulfills these criteria.  Our Search Committee includes three tenured faculty members (including the elected chair of the FAC) who have a combined service to Marist of more than 80 years.  We appointed a School Dean who is a tenured member of the faculty.  We also appointed to the Committee the elected president of the Alumni Association, who is a retired Navy Captain and a distinguished war hero.  We added the elected student government president and two senior women administrators who have a combined service to the College of almost 60 years.  The Board of Trustees is represented on the Committee by a physician; the former Superior General of the Marist Brothers, who is a renowned scholar; business leaders; and a faculty member from Harvard University who is a nationally recognized expert on higher education.  Interestingly enough, while board members form the majority of most presidential search committees, Marist Trustees are in the minority on this committee, which is very unusual.  The Committee has been working together collaboratively on all issues and has been making good progress toward the charge we have been given.

Listening sessions

Throughout the spring and summer, the Search Committee and representatives from Isaacson, Miller conducted extensive listening sessions and interviews with all Marist stakeholders: full- and part-time faculty, students, staff, alumni/ae, members of the Board of Trustees, parents, retirees, Marist Brothers, members of the Florence branch campus, and other key constituents.  In these sessions, we asked community members what qualities and abilities they sought in our next president and what would be the major issues that person would be confronting.  In addition, many thoughtful comments were received via the presidential search website.  In total, we solicited input from more than 25,000 members of the Marist community, and we are grateful to those who responded.  Several key themes emerged over the course of our conversations, and this information was integral to the Committee’s drafting of the position profile. 

Position profile

The Committee then undertook the task of writing the position profile based on the input from community members.  After several iterations, the Committee believed they had a document that described the qualities we seek in our next president.  The position profile was unanimously approved by the members of the Search Committee and posted on the presidential search website.

Solicitation of applications and nominations

Working with Isaacson, Miller, the position was advertised nationally to build the largest possible pool of candidates.  Our search firm also reached out to their extensive network of educational leaders to solicit applications and nominations.  Members of the Marist community were also encouraged to suggest names or make formal nominations.  The results were impressive. 

Review of applications and initial interviews

In total, 78 individuals expressed interest in the position, and the Committee reviewed in depth the materials of 44 candidates.  The pool includes 19 women (24 percent of the total) and 19 candidates who identify as ethnically/racially diverse (again, 24 percent).  Three-quarters of the pool are currently in university or college leadership roles, e.g., chancellor, provost, professional school dean, vice president, and a few sitting presidents.  The other 25 percent come from leadership positions in business, federal or state government, or education-related organizations.  After reviewing applications, the Committee selected for interviews eight candidates who best met the qualifications outlined in the position profile.  These interviews are currently ongoing.

Conclusion

I want to assure members of the Marist community that the Search Committee has been working diligently, and we owe its members a debt of gratitude for the time they have devoted to this process.  I look forward to providing you with further information about the search when the College convenes for its spring semester.  In the meantime, we encourage you to continue sharing your thoughts and feedback with us confidentially via the presidential search website (accessible from the Marist homepage).  My best wishes to you and your families for a happy and healthy holiday season.


August 13, 2015

MEMORANDUM TO THE MARIST COLLEGE COMMUNITY 

 

FROM: ROSS A. MAURI ’80, CHAIR OF THE PRESIDENTIAL SEARCH COMMITTEE

SUBJECT: PRESIDENTIAL SEARCH UPDATE 

I’d like to provide the campus community with an update on our progress in the search for Marist’s next president. Over the past two months, Presidential Search Committee members and representatives from Isaacson, Miller have conducted twelve group listening sessions with students, full- and part-time faculty, staff, alumni/ae, members of the Board of Trustees, parents, retirees, Marist Brothers, members of the Florence branch campus, and other key community stakeholders.  In addition, Isaacson, Miller has participated in nearly a dozen one-on-one and small group discussion sessions.  In all of these conversations we have asked for your input on the qualities, characteristics, and competencies we should seek in the person who will become the fourth president of Marist College. 


Sincere thanks to everyone who took the time to attend a listening session or submit feedback through the Contact Us feature of the Committee’s portal.  Several key themes emerged over the course of our conversations with the campus community, and this information was integral to the Committee’s drafting of the position profile.  This document is now publicly available on the College’s website and will be disseminated to prospective candidates in order to educate them on Marist’s unique history, culture, and mission. 


In the coming months, Isaacson, Miller will begin identifying, recruiting, and evaluating applicants for review by the full Presidential Search Committee.  This process will likely extend into the late fall or early winter, at which point the Committee will begin interviewing candidates.  During this portion of the search we will conduct our work with the confidentiality necessary to attract the strongest applicant pool, but we will continue to regularly update the campus community.  I invite you to continue sending feedback and candidate recommendations to the Search Committee or directly to the executive search firm.  All suggestions and nominations will be handled confidentially.