Jocelyn Buggy ‘22
On the evening of Wednesday October 28th, the Presidential Search Committee and Isaacson, Miller (IM) facilitated a virtual forum with current Holy Cross students to discuss the beginning stages of the Presidential Search process. In an e-mail to the campus community, Presidential Search Committee Chair Tom Joyce ‘82 encouraged attendants to consider a series of questions prior to the forum: What would be the tangible and objective measures of success for the next President? What organizational activities at Holy Cross need to be sustained? What are the challenges this individual will face in the years ahead? These questions, along with others, were addressed at length during the hour-long dialogue between current students and Issacson, Miller team members on Wednesday night’s Zoom call.
Representing Issacson, Miller at the forum was the firm’s President, Vivian Brocard, along with Jenna Sattar Kwiatek ‘11, Associate Executive Recruiter. Both Brocard and Sattar Kwiatek explained to students IM’s history of assisting with previous searches at Holy Cross and other mission-driven institutions. Brocard stated that Isaacson, Miller’s role in the Presidential Search process will be to collaborate closely with the Search Committee, supporting them in creating a candidate pool and conducting research on what the College needs from its next President. IM will hold a series of listening sessions in the coming weeks and months to hear from students, faculty, board members, senior administration, and other members of the Holy Cross community in order to inform this process.
Perhaps the most significant moment of Wednesday night’s student forum arrived in the form of a question posed to Brocard about the future President’s gender. When asked if the next President could be a woman, Brocard responded that Isaacson, Miller will help the Search Committee form a diverse candidate pool that includes women. Brocard reiterated the importance of candidates having a deep understanding of the Jesuit tradition, but stated that this did not mean IM and the Committee will exclusively seek out those with an S.J. title. She told students that the Committee will consider people who have a history of being immersed in Jesuit spirituality and the experience to perform well in a College presidency role. If the Committee does select a female candidate, it will represent the first time a woman has served as President in the College’s history.
Sophomore Jaime Perez attended the forum and asked Brocard and Sattar Kwiatek about the role of diversity and inclusion efforts in IM’s search process. Perez told The Spire that he was “pleasantly surprised” by the receptiveness of IM to embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the process of selecting a new President. “In most cases,” Perez said, “diversity is overlooked as an issue that gets addressed as an after-the-fact challenge. Many institutions fail to take diversity into account as they seek changes to their administration, which results in both a lack of diversity in hiring and an overall harder time addressing diversity after the process is complete. It’s comforting for me, as a Queer, Student of Color, to see these precautions taken so early on.”
When asked what he hoped to see from the IM team and the Presidential Search Committee in the coming months, Perez said: “I want to see an active approach to finding individuals who are capable of serving as President of our institution who are outside of the scope of the [traditional] S.J. community. I think that having an understanding of Jesuit values and principles does not require one to actually be a priest, and it would be very pleasing to see a more diverse candidate list in that sense. At the end of the day, I would love to see a woman selected as the next President of our College. Women have shaped the institution since it came to fruition, and it is their work that serves as a backbone and catalyst for progress at Holy Cross. Having a woman as our President would be a great message to both the student body and the global community that we [are part of as a] Jesuit institution. It will prove that Holy Cross remains ahead of the game and is actively working to foster a stronger, more inclusive campus climate.”