First and foremost, Montclair State University’s President embraces, embodies and champions the community’s collective values. The ideal candidate for the position must therefore appreciate the history, culture and spirit of this distinctive institution. It is essential that the President convey a passion for Montclair State’s character and be willing and able to enthusiastically communicate its strengths and priorities and serve as its champion.
Montclair State’s President must demonstrate a managerial approach that emphasizes clear and open communication, team orientation, the ability and willingness to delegate authority and hold people accountable, and a commitment to the “servant leadership” model. The next President must combine these attributes with creativity, the ability to assess and undertake calculated risk, a tolerance for ambiguity and nuance, optimism, a sense of self-confidence, humility and humor. Like most effective leaders, Montclair State’s President must be able to balance the need to engage in appropriate levels of collaboration and consultation with the essential ability to make timely and informed decisions.
The President will expend considerable time and energy working with external constituencies to generate the resources the University needs to carry on and expand its operations and enhance its profile. This will include fundraising as well as interactions with print, broadcast and online media, and a sensitivity to the impact those interactions will have on the University. In building these external relationships, the President will also demonstrate considerable skill and experience as a communicator and negotiator, and will possess the diplomatic dexterity, political savvy, courage of convictions, self-awareness and exquisite judgment necessary for superb leadership.
A doctorate or other terminal degree is strongly preferred. Candidates should have a demonstrated record of successful executive leadership, credentials and/or experience sufficient to warrant the respect and complete confidence of University stakeholders.
Experience in managing the financial and budgeting operations of a complex organization is a prerequisite for this position. Prior financial management experience will provide the foundation for effectively overseeing all major business aspects of the University. An understanding of the importance of building an enterprise risk management framework, including, but not limited to financial audit, and some experience of determining and utilizing mitigation strategies would be an advantage.
In order to continue the momentum gained through the designation of Montclair State as an R2 (“High Research Activity”) university – and to gain access to new sources of extramural funding – the President should have a direct understanding of the important ways that research productivity in significant areas contributes to the realization of the inherent knowledge-creation mission of a great university, and a commitment to advancing faculty scholarship and creative work.
Higher Education Issues, Economics and Trends
The President should be fluent in the current and emerging topics in higher education, particularly those that are relevant to a national public university like Montclair State. This acumen should include a working knowledge of changing university financial models, enrollment trends, intercollegiate athletics and instructional delivery technologies and methodologies.
Expanding resources is vital to the progress of Montclair State, and the President must play a key role as an engaged champion for philanthropy, setting the strategic direction and being personally engaged. The President will have demonstrated both a talent and an enthusiasm for fundraising, a passion for Montclair State’s mission, and the personal and social skills that enable successful donor relationships.
Montclair State must constantly be sensitive to its community presence and image, and the President must have a high level of involvement and visibility in the region. This carries a special obligation for the University – through its President – to play a significant role in the economic and community development of the surrounding area. Experience in partnering with community organizations and serving on nonprofit boards would be among the indicators that the new President would possess the skills and interests necessary to succeed in this portion of the role.
As a public institution, Montclair State’s fortunes are regularly affected by how its external stakeholders perceive its value to its immediate region and the State of New Jersey. The President must be a skillful communicator with the relationship skills, political acumen and “street smarts” necessary to position the University effectively and positively with political, business and civic leaders.
Marketing and Communications
Much of the University’s future success and strategic direction require additional external visibility and a broader, fuller awareness of its distinctive identity. The new President must lead and support the charge to continue enhancing the University’s reputation not only regionally, but nationally as well. Experience in overseeing public relations and marketing programs and campaigns that propelled an organization forward, and in communicating publicly on behalf of an organization, would be beneficial to the new President.
Working knowledge of governance practices is essential, and having that experience in a university setting would be preferred, as would be direct experience leading within a collective bargaining environment. Working with boards and understanding how they operate can be learned rapidly once in the position, but having that knowledge in advance would help the new President to quickly develop a collaborative partnership with Montclair State’s Board of Trustees.
The President should possess the ability to balance the strong executive leadership needed to ensure that decisions are made in a timely and fair manner with sensitivity to the context of shared governance, faculty tenure, collective bargaining and academic freedom at Montclair State. This includes seeking appropriate input for major decisions; reaching out to faculty, staff and students and encouraging their engagement in campus matters; and conveying a collaborative leadership style.
In today’s world of rapid technological advances and applications, a working knowledge of the direction and possibilities of information technology would be very useful in steering advances and shaping communications at Montclair State. While this is primarily at an oversight level, some personal knowledge of technology and social media applications and trends would be beneficial.
- Academic Excellence – commitment to an environment where teaching and student success remain a priority, with a strong research and scholarly focus integrated into that agenda.
- Executive Disposition – conveying an image that is consistent with Montclair State’s values; demonstrating the qualities, traits, work ethic, high energy and demeanor that command leadership respect.
- Enhanced Communications – ability to present ideas and messages in a cogent fashion, whether in one-on-one, small group or large audience forums. Must inspire, energize and enthuse audiences. Also demonstrate thoughtful and reflective listening skills.
- Progressive Thinking and Behavior – conveying an entrepreneurial outlook that encourages new ways of approaching problems and opportunities, and a willingness to foster and incent change in organizations, practices and culture. Implementing change diplomatically.
- Drive for Results – setting high goals for personal and group accomplishment; using measurement methods to monitor progress toward goal attainment; tenaciously working to meet or exceed those goals while deriving satisfaction from the process of goal achievement and continuous improvement.
- Valuing Diversity – commitment (in both word and deed) to diversity, inclusion, equity and the ability to articulate a strong rationale for their importance to effective learning at Montclair State. Encouraging a culture of diverse thought and comfortably participating in campus conversation about social issues that impact the University community.
- Change Management – the capacity to identify new areas for transformation and to inspire Montclair State’s many constituents to explore and achieve new possibilities.
- Student Orientation – in harmony with the student success theme of the Strategic Plan, a commitment to keeping students at the center of Montclair State’s programs and operations, with their academic and holistic development the ultimate goal.
- Authenticity – a genuineness which engenders trust, encompasses integrity and self-confidence, but conveys humility. Empathy for the very real struggles that many students face. A person who takes their role but not themselves very seriously.
- Visibility and Approachability – a willingness and interest to participate in campus life, including attending academic, cultural and athletic events, with an equal investment of time spent externally in the community. A high level of comfort in encouraging – and accepting – insights, feedback, suggestions (and criticism!) from a myriad of Montclair State stakeholders.
- Personal Values – a leader who exhibits and embodies integrity, collegiality, leadership development, support of scholarship and enthusiasm. A leader who values participating in a campus community that honors tradition, embraces intelligent growth, and reflects the collegiality, respect, mutual support and warmth of a family. Above all, a leader who has the courage and conviction to make the necessary decisions in a compassionate way to ensure Montclair State’s long-term success.