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Finlandia Board of Trustees names Presidential Search Committee, national executive search firm

January 11, 2022

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The Finlandia University Board of Trustees has made significant advancements in the search for Finlandia’s next president, announcing the establishment of the Presidential Search Committee and selection of a national executive search firm. The search follows the October announcement of current Finlandia President Philip Johnson, who is to step down after the 2021-22 academic year.

The establishment of the Presidential Search Committee follows approval by the Finlandia University Board of Trustees after an extensive review and deliberation, consisting of members of the Board, Finlandia alumni, faculty and staff. The purpose of the search committee is to identify and recommend qualified candidates to the Board of Trustees.

Committee members include:
Julie Badel, Board of Trustees President, Ex-officio
Richard Gee, Faculty
Shelby (Seaton) Hamar, Board of Trustees
Monica Hill, Finlandia Alumni Board President
Dr. Jeanne Kemppainen, Board of Trustees
Kevin Manninen, Faculty
Dr. Michael Nakkula, Board of Trustees
Ross Rinkinen, Board of Trustees
Lori Sullivan, Faculty
Curtis Wittenberg, Staff

Committee members will work with Finlandia’s selected search firm, Academic Search, which has completed more than 2,000 executive searches, including more than 560 presidential, vice presidential and dean searches over the past five years.

The announcement was made by Finlandia University Board of Trustees President Julie Badel, whose full message to the community is below.


I write to update you on the positive developments in the search for the 17th president of Finlandia University. The Board of Trustees has recently retained the services of Academic Search to assist with our presidential search. Academic Search has worked exclusively for more than 45 years in searches for presidents and senior administrators in higher education. Consultants Jack Ohle and Andrea Cowsert will spend January 12-14 meeting with various members of the campus community, as well as the search committee, to learn more about the University and to hear from administrators, faculty, staff, alumni, and others about the important work we need to do in the coming years and the qualities, skills, and attributes we seek in our next president. I want to express my thanks on behalf of the Board of Trustees to all who are able to contribute to this work.

Insights gathered during the consultants’ conversations will be summarized in a position prospectus and members of the search committee will review and edit this document. The final prospectus will be made available on the forthcoming University website and on the Academic Search website. Once the search has officially launched, we encourage you to share the prospectus widely as a wonderful recruitment tool.

I want to make special note that members of the search committee have pledged that strict confidentiality will be observed throughout the search process and in perpetuity to protect all applicants, nominees, and prospective applicants. As a member of the search committee and President of the Board of Trustees, I will serve as the spokesperson and all questions can be directed to me. I ask that you respect the commitment to confidentiality your colleagues have pledged. It is an essential element of our having a highly successful search process.

I want to note also that the role of our consultants is not to select our next president but rather to support and inform the work of the search committee, to help ensure that the search and selection process is managed effectively, and to be engaged in active recruitment of top prospects. In addition to posting the ad in key higher education publications, the consultants will reach out to a broad network of contacts and follow up on nominations submitted by you and other members of the higher education community. When nominating, please forward the names and contact information (preferably email) of those you wish to nominate to FinlandiaPresident@academicsearch.org.

I will continue to update you at significant stages of the search process. Thank you for your continued interest and support.

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