As finals steadily approach, so does the departure of Steven DiSalvo as President of Saint Anselm College. Earlier this year, DiSalvo sent out a schoolwide email announcing that his duties will officially end on June 30. DiSalvo has since announced that he will become the next President of Endicott College in Beverly, Massachusetts. This has caused many across campus to wonder about his replacement and the ongoing presidential search.
At the beginning of April, it was announced that the search would be moving onto its next step: a hybrid committee. The first phase involved a search committee comprised of faculty, alumnus, as well as a senior student representative. The committee was led by Abbot Mark Cooper and the Chair of the Board of Trustees Ann Catino, class of 1982. Along with Trustees Geraldine Deluca, ‘77 and Charles Crowley, ‘81 they used higher education executive search firm Isaacson Miller to begin the process. Isaacson Miller has helped schools of higher learning across the nation, including Duke University School of Law, Tuskegee University, University of Chicago, and now Saint Anselm College. The Crier reached out to Isaacson Miller for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.
As Chair of the Board of Trustees, Catino is tasked with overseeing the entire search process. Her job, along with Abbot Cooper and the other participants, is to ensure a fair and appropriate process picking the eleventh president of Saint Anselm College. According to the school website, the next president, “must be a sincere and persuasive public advocate for the enduring value of a liberal arts education and guide Saint Anselm to find the right balance in academic programming that remains true to its traditional core education while also recognizing the importance of pre-professional programs.”
This initial search committee met with a wave of candidates and narrowed down the nominees through a thorough series of interviews. Catino, a partner at Halloran Sage law firm in Connecticut, noted that all committee members and potential candidates followed a confidentiality agreement. This meant that members were unable to disclose specifics of the process, such as candidate names.
“An open search has not evolved as the norm in these scenarios,” Catino explained. “If a candidate already has a job, they risk getting in trouble if their present employer finds out. This process is a closed search, meaning that only members know who is being discussed.”
After meeting with this first wave, the number of candidates was narrowed. Then, a new, hybrid committee was formed. Besides Abbot Mark and Catino, this hybrid committee has an entirely new group of people. Again, the committee is comprised of alumnus, like Trustee Steve Ellis, and faculty like Dean of Students Alicia Finn. One noticeable omission in the group was a student representative. Previously, senior Kerrin Norton was on the search committee. The lack of a student representative was not done due to procedure, as some might has guessed, but due to timing issues.
“The reason no students are on this hybrid committee is the overlap with finals,” Catino said. “We wouldn’t want to do anything to adversely affect students and their need to study and do well.”
According to Catino, the hybrid committee is merely a next phase of the search. The search will remain confidential but will add more community representation to the group conducting these interviews. The use of hybrid committees in these searches has been on the rise, with schools like the University of Cleveland choosing this approach. Giving this new perspective, the 15 members will see this to the end.
Due to the confidential nature of choosing the next president, few details have been shared with the student body. However, Catino has said that the process is going well under Isaacson Miller’s leadership. She added that the public should be notified as to the next president by the time DiSalvo steps down at the end of the academic school year.
This job has a personal angle for Catino as well. She majored in political science and graduated from Saint Anselm in 1982.
“Saint Anselm College rounded my career and shaped me as the person I am today. It shaped my thinking and gave me problems solving skills. I wanted to give back to the college I found so important in my own life. I want to ensure students today and tomorrow have the same experience. Saint Anselm is a very special place, and hopefully will stay that way for hundreds of years.”