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Presidential Search Communications

In an effort to provide a channel for open and transparent information regarding Western’s search for a new president, the Board of Trustees will post any communications regarding the search to this page. Please check in here for the latest details regarding updates to the search.


Western hires search firm to find new president

AGB Search to assist in identifying presidential candidates

Western Colorado University’s Presidential Search Committee, as authorized by the Board of Trustees, has hired a national higher education search firm, AGB Search, to assist in recruiting the university’s next president. The firm was chosen as most qualified from among six firms submitting bids to the search committee.

AGB Search, a Washington D.C. based company specializing in higher education executive searches, and affiliated with the Association of Governing Boards, has assisted in more than 750 executive searches at more than 400 public and private higher education institutions across the country.

AGB Search leverages its expertise and relationships in higher education to find highly qualified, diverse, and both traditional and non-traditional candidates for executive positions.

“Ultimately, insuring the highest possible performance of the search firm is the responsibility of the search committee,” said committee chair James Pribyl. “Holding the selected firm accountable throughout the process is our job, and one we intend to do vigorously.”

The search committee, in evaluating the various bids, concluded that AGB Search best met Western’s needs, interviewed well, and had excellent references, said Pribyl.

“AGB Search is committed to finding diverse candidates, including women and people of color, and will provide a full year of presidential transition support to the new president,” said Pribyl.

The AGB Search team working for Western are Associate Managing Principal Melissa Trotta, Principal Peggy Plympton, and Principal Monica Burton.

  • Trotta has 25 years of higher education experience at universities including Harvard, Georgetown and Johns Hopkins.
  • Plympton has 35 years of higher education leadership experience and has served as the Acting Chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities for three years.
  • Burton is a member of AGB’s Justice, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion working group, and has more than two decades of search experience. She has conducted searches for the University of Colorado, both Boulder and Colorado Springs campuses, the University of Denver and the Colorado Community College system.

The Presidential Search Committee will meet regularly on the second and fourth Thursday of each month, Pribyl said.
AGB Search will participate in these meetings, and will be on campus in October to meet with various stakeholders. The company estimates a six-month timeline on the search.

About Western Colorado University: Established in 1901 in Gunnison, Colo., Western is a four-year public institution which offers more than 100 areas of study to its about 3,000 students in the heart of the Rocky Mountains.

Western Colorado University Presidential Search Committee hosted AGB Search, the higher education executive search firm retained to assist in recruiting the next president of Western, to two full days of meetings on campus last week. AGB consultants Monica Burton and Peggy Plympton were in Gunnison from late Tuesday, Oct. 12 through Friday morning, Oct. 15 and met with Interim President Nancy Chisholm, Search Committee Chair James Pribyl, Cabinet, faculty, staff, students, community members, alumni, and donors to seek stakeholder opinions about the desired leadership characteristics of Western’s next president.

AGB participated in 12 meetings with individual campus leaders and were introduced to the Gunnison Valley on a two-hour driving tour hosted by search committee member and Gunnison County Commissioner Chair Jonathan Houck.

The stakeholder meetings were attended by approximately 30 faculty, 25 staff, five students, four alumni/donors, and four community members. AGB will be hosting one more virtual session for community members at 6 p.m. on Oct. 21.

“To fulfill our commitment to the entire Western community to invite robust commentary about the characteristics and capabilities of our president, we asked and AGB responded by adding extra meeting time for faculty, staff, students and the community,” said James Pribyl, Search Committee Chair.

Community members are invited to join the meeting by clicking here. Previously, AGB Search team also met with the full search committee to seek their opinions.

Interested stakeholders can post their thoughts and ideas at Presidential Search Committee survey open through 5 p.m., Oct 20.

AGB will submit a draft Leadership Profile reflecting the desired qualifications of presidential applicants to the search committee within the next 10 days. The search committee expects to approve the profile at its regularly scheduled meeting at 8 a.m., Oct. 28. Once approved, AGB will advertise in various national publications and forums and will receive applications for approximately two months.

Beginning mid-January 2022, AGB and the search committee will begin evaluating applicants with the goal of identifying eight to 10 best qualified semi-finalists. Finalists will then be selected by the search committee for in-person campus visits and interviews with the full Board of Trustees in early March. The Board plans to make a final decision at its scheduled March 24 Board meeting in Gunnison.

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