With start of candidate reviews, Linfield is taking steps to choose new president

Kaelia Neal, Editor-in-chief

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It’s been almost five months since President Thomas L. Hellie announced his pending retirement, and Linfield’s Presidential Search Committee has begun reviewing applications.

The committee hopes to narrow the pool via a three-step process. It plans to begin conducting interviews this month and next month, have finalists out for visits in December and settle on a new president by year’s end.

This is the first time Linfield has had a student representative on the 19-member search committee. Student Body President Tenzin Yangchen, a senior, will help conduct interviews and reach a final decision.

“I’m excited,” Yangchen said. “This is a really rare opportunity. This is really the power of a small college.”

She said she plans to serve as a voice for students. If they have concerns or desires, she hopes they will reach out to her.

“I’m looking for someone who is responsive to student needs,” she said.

Committee Chair Kerry Carmody, a retired health care executive who majored in Chemistry at

Linfield, said the committee is looking for someone who can work well with the Linfield community, raise money for the college and improve student retention rates. He said the ability to add new programs and develop new infrastructure is also something the committee is looking for.

“It’s going to be a fun and exciting process,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it.”

Carmody, who has served on Linfield’s board of trustees for almost nine years, said he will be joining other members of the search committee in traveling around the country for initial interviews.

“You have got to look someone in the eye,” he said. “To do anything less would be a disservice.”

He said members of the search committee are passionate about the success of the college. “All of us have been highly committed to Linfield for a number of years,” he said.

Carmody said Hellie has been a good fit for the college, so will be hard to replace. “It’s going to be difficult to find someone like him or better,” Carmody said.

But the committee is getting some expert outside help officers at Spencer Stuart, a global executive search and leadership consulting firm.

“They are our right hand men in this process,” Carmody said. With their help, he said, he’s confident the committee will be successful.

The names of the candidates will remain confidential until the committee settles on a set of finalists. Carmody said the committee could name anywhere from two to four, each of which will visit Linfield to give the campus community an up-close and in-person look.

Although the schedule is not yet set, the committee hopes to interview candidates elsewhere in October and November, and bring a set of finalists to campus in December.

Hellie plans to step down at the end of the current school year — his 11th.

During his tenure, Linfield had developed a more diverse student body, one now boasting 32 percent students of color; a larger endowment, now standing at $101.6 million; and several new programs, including a wine studies minor.

Yangchen said Hellie has been responsive to what is happening in students’ lives. When choosing a new president, her biggest concern will be finding someone with a history of successful student interaction, perhaps as a professor.

Carmody said questions like that always arise when a long-time leader retires. “We don’t know the answers to all of those questions,” he said, “but we have a process to deal with them.”

That process is scheduled to play out on June 30, 2018, with Hellie saying a final goodbye and handing the reins off to Linfield’s 20th president.