Partnered with Wickenden Associates, the Marlborough Search Committee has begun the process of finding a new Head of School, whom they hope will begin his or her term in July, 2015.
Wickenden Associates is one of the top-ranked independent school consulting firms in the nation. Since its founding in 1986, their employees have conducted more than 325 Head of School searches throughout the country. Jim Wickenden, the founder of Wickenden Associates, along with Senior Search Consultant Jo Butler and Search Consultant Peter Gillin are the Wickenden Associates representatives that will work closely with the School and the Search Committee over the next several months. Wickenden explained that Marlborough’s search is different from 99% of the other searches that they have led because of the limited time available to find a Head to start in July.
On Dec. 2 and 3, Wickenden and Butler were on campus conducting interviews and holding forums with various groups within the Marlborough community including faculty, department heads, staff, and students. One of the faculty representatives on the Search Committee, 10th Grade Level Dean Tom Millar, said that the Search Committee and Wickenden Associates wanted to “cast the net wide in terms of input from the different constituencies.” Millar added that the purpose of the forums was for the representatives from Wickenden Associates to get a better sense of the contours of opinion on campus.
Additionally, two student representatives from each grade were recently chosen by their respective grade level deans to serve on the Search Committee in order to provide another means for the student body to voice its opinions and concerns throughout the search process. When Wickenden was on campus in December, he held a forum open to the entire student body so that he could answer students’ questions about the search process. Wickenden explained that the overarching purpose of the forums held on campus in December was for Wickenden and Butler to gather as much information as possible from the entire Marlborough community in order to form the Opportunity Statement for candidates for the Head of School position. This statement, which has since been drafted and published by Wickenden Associates and can be found on their website, is filled with interview notes and results from a survey that was sent out to the School community.
Now that the official application deadline of Jan. 14 has passed, Wickenden Associates and the Search Committee are selecting 12-15 candidates that they believe are best suited for the job; in addition, Wickenden Associates may invite up to eight additional candidates. These eight will be chosen from a database of approximately 13,000 educators that the company has met over the past 27 years.
Although the consulting firm will be looking at both men and women as potential candidates, Wickenden’s focus is on the female candidates.
“From my biased standpoint, I think that it is important to have a woman leading an all-girls school,” Wickenden said.
Once the Search Committee has received all of the candidates’ information, the committee will select up to eight candidates to interview from the 12-15 selected candidates who applied and the eight candidates handpicked from the Wickenden Associates database. The Search Committee will bring a smaller group of finalists to campus during the second or third week of February to appear in front of students, faculty, parents, and alumnae for two days. Wickenden Associates urges students to visit their website to record impressions of each finalist and whether he or she is well-suited to be the next Head of the School. These responses, along with additional narratives and ratings about the finalists after their time on campus, will be collated into a report by Wickenden Associates, which will then be sent to the Search Committee.
If one of the finalists stands out among the rest at this time, he or she will be chosen as the new Head of School. However, if there is not a clear decision, the Board of Trustees will choose an interim Head of School for the 2015-2016 school year, during which time the committee will reach out to a larger pool of applicants to assume position as Head of School the following year. Wickenden believes that there is a 50-50 chance that they will be successful in finding a permanent Head of School by the spring.
Millar revealed that his main concern is the relatively tight timeline for finding a new Head of School who could very well be arriving on campus to start his or her new position in just a few months. Aside from the timing, Millar believes that finding a new Head of School who will live up to the expectations of the community will be one of the biggest challenges that the committee will face.
“It’s a challenge in all kinds of ways. How do you find another great Head of School without trying to replicate what you had before? How much do you have to keep in mind that we need someone to help us through?” Millar said.
Emily ’15 who is one of the two senior class representatives on the Search Committee, said that there is a lot of concern about the transition that will take place next year.
“Instead of focusing on how things will end, we have to think about how to begin,” Emily said.