Higher Education

We work with world-renowned universities, colleges and research institutions to recruit, develop and advise transformational senior academic and non-academic administrators.

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Russell Reynolds Associates serves as a trusted advisor to a wide variety of institutions in higher education. We specialize in recruiting senior leaders to the nation’s top colleges and universities and associated institutes and centers and offer advisory services to strengthen institutions’ culture and leadership and to help solve complex leadership challenges.

Trusted Advisors of Organizational & Leadership Effectiveness

Our Education Practice is a diverse team of experts drawing on decades of combined experience working within the faculty and administration of leading education institutions. We understand the industry from the inside out and don’t hesitate to push our clients in their thinking. Our clients value us for the insights and long-term value we bring. We build lasting relationships over the years, helping institutions achieve their leadership goals with consistency with a range of advisory services beyond executive search that include:

  • Organizational effectiveness

    • Organizational alignment
    • Diversity and inclusion advisory
    • Culture advisory
  • Leadership effectiveness

    • Succession planning
    • Leadership assessment
    • Transitions and onboarding

Client-Centered Approach

We are driven to produce nothing short of exceptional results for our clients. More than 90% of our successful candidates placed over the last five years are still in place. We take pride in the effort we put in understanding the needs, values and culture of each institution with which we work, and we use this knowledge to best represent our clients throughout each assignment. We are adaptable and can tailor aspects of the process to fit our clients’ needs. And while our consultants often team together to complete assignments, we assign a lead consultant to each assignment based on their expertise. This consultant becomes a trusted partner and point person to the client. Client feedback is captured at the conclusion of every search, and we are consistently praised for the high quality of the candidates we present and the unparalleled service we provide. Our clients particularly appreciate the way we work with search committees, who value our previous experience serving within senior administrative roles within top-tier institutions.

Commitment to Diversity & Inclusion

We are highly targeted and strategic in our outreach to ensure that our candidate pools and finalist pools are sufficiently diverse. We track diverse talent and are keenly aware of and connected to high potential, diverse individuals. All RRA consultants go through mandatory training on unconscious bias, and we help formulate recruitment and selection methods that get at core competencies, rather than affirm biases. We carefully track diversity metrics across our search work. More than half of our successful candidates over the past several years have been women and/or people of color.

Our Higher Education Experience

We have broad and deep expertise in senior academic (e.g. president, provost, dean) and functional assignments (e.g. CIO, CFO, GC), mainly at research-intensive and top tier liberal arts institutions, private and public in equal measure, throughout the United States and around the world – nearly one-fifth of our assignments are completed outside the US. Over the past five years, our higher education team has completed more than 250 assignments, including 165 assignments at forty top research universities. These placements include:

  • 30 university presidents and chancellors at research universities and liberal arts colleges; 18 at private and 12 at public institutions.
  • 25 provosts
  • More than 40 vice presidents and vice provosts
  • More than 40 CXOs, including 17 chief financial, operating and academic officers, 14 chief information, digital and technology officers, and 10 chief communication officers
  • More than 100 deans across nearly every discipline
  • 12 center or institute directors
  • More than 40 department chairs and chiefs

We work closely with the Academic Medicine Centers, and EdTech and Digital Education teams within our Education Practice, are accustomed to cross-sector assignments, working with our Healthcare and Technology practice among others, and build our teams based on your specific needs to provide you the best outcome.

Together, RRA is proud to partner with you to improve the way the world is led.

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Higher Education