A search committee has been announced to search for Rhode Island College’s next president. The creation of this committee is one of the first steps in the presidential search process alongside hiring a search firm.
Rhode Island’s Commissioner of Postsecondary Education (RIOPC), Dr. Shannon Gilkey, told RIC students via email Wednesday that this committee will “meet with the search firm; review candidates; participate in interviews; and recommend finalists to the council for consideration.”
Members of the committee were selected by Chairman of the Council on Postsecondary Education David Caprio.
This committee will have two co-chairs: Rachelle Greene, Esq. Partner, Cervenka Green & Ducharme LLC, and Jeffery Williams, D.Min., MPA, Chief Empowerment Officer, The King’s Cathedral.
Alongside Caprio, this committee will include the following members:
Erik Christiansen, Ph.D. Professor, Rhode Island College.
Valerie Endress, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Rhode Island College.
Kenneth Gilbert, Manager, Network Operations, Rhode Island College.
Hon. Thomas Izzo, ‘64.
Hon. Kevin McHugh, ’72, ’73 Associate Justice, Rhode Island Superior Court.
Hon. Steve Smith ’79, Senior Advisor to the Mayor, City of Providence.
In addition to the search committee, there is also going to be an advisory committee. Gilkey said Caprio asked RIC’s Alumni Association and Student Government to sponsor said committee.
Gilkey said the advisory committee “will be comprised of leaders across K-12, business and industry, the non-profit community, and the Rhode Island College Foundation.” As for what responsibilities this committee has, Gilkey said they “will outline qualifications needed for the president, criteria for the job description and other activities they deem necessary to ensure the search committee and council have the necessary and relevant information needed for its selection of the next president.”
Shortly after this committee was announced, one observation noticed was no inclusion of any student voices. A committee announced after then-RIC President Frank Sánchez announced he wasn’t seeking a third term differed, including the Student Community Government president at the time.
Beth Bailey, a spokesperson for RIOPC told The Anchor that the advisory committee will both “have student representation” and “host forums on campus for stakeholders to provide their input on the direction of RIC for the search committee and council on postsecondary education.”
“Throughout the search for a permanent president, the office will conduct routine communications with the RIC community, external stakeholders, and the public to ensure a transparent process is maintained throughout,” Bailey added.
A second observation regarding the search committee’s composition came from State Rep. Karen Alzate (D-Dist. 60), a RIC alumna. Her observation was the committee’s composition not being reflective of RIC’s status as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, which the college became last year.
“As a proud alumni of RIC and knowing that we are a HSI, I was surprised to see that the search committee for our next president is not reflective of our community,” Alzate told The Anchor Friday. “[Rhode Island] is a diverse state and many amazing leaders have graduated from RIC and to not have the search committee reflect that is disheartening but yet, not surprising.”
The Anchor reached out to Bailey regarding this aspect of the committee’s composition.
Bailey said the “search committee alone does not make the decision about the hire” and that Caprio “did consider the HSI status of the college when mapping out the process for selecting the new president with relation to the composition of the council, which makes the final hiring decision, the Search Committee, which screens the candidates and the Advisory Committee, which will inform the job description, the attributes of the candidates and the criteria for selecting the next president.”
“In its totality, this three-body process will help ensure that the presidential search will be inclusive and transparent,” Bailey added. “This process was informed by similar ones used across the country.”
Bailey also noted the diversity of the members of the Council on Postsecondary Education, who are going to make the final hiring decision.
The next major step in this process will include a formal search beginning in July after the search firm’s search profile is brought to the Postsecondary Council in June for approval.
Based on a timeline provided to students by Gilkey in January, a finalist is expected to be announced in January 2024.