Isiaah Crawford Named Puget Sound's 14th President

Trustees Introduce Isiaah Crawford to Campus Community

Feb. 26, 2016

Just prior to our gathering here today, the board of trustees exercised one of its most important responsibilities in service to the university: the nomination and election of the university’s next president, who will become the 14th president in Puget Sound’s 128-year history.

This is a historic moment for the college and for all of us.

As you know our search process was initiated last May, following President Thomas’s announcement of his plans to conclude his presidency at the end of the current academic year.

The trustees appointed a search committee chair, Bob Pohlad, who will become chair of the board effective July 1. Bob and I worked together to secure the services of a search consultant, Dr. Jamie Ferrare of AGB Search. Dr. Ferrare is the same search consultant who worked with us to identify President Thomas back in 2003.

We also assembled a search committee, charged with identifying and vetting candidates, and recommending finalists to the board. It was important to us to keep the committee small enough to execute its responsibilities and broad enough to represent the university’s many constituencies. Those serving on the 14-member search committee were:

Representing the trustees:

    • Rick Brooks ’82, board chair
    • Bob Pohlad P’07, board chair-elect
    • Deanna Oppenheimer ’80, P’11, P’14
    • Holly Dillon ’84, J.D.’88
    • Gwen Lillis P’05
    • Gillian Neukom Toledo ’94, trustee emerita
    • Lyle Quasim ’70, Hon.’05
    • Mike Veseth ’72, trustee and professor emeritus

 Representing the faculty:

    • Nancy Bristow, professor, history
    • Alisa Kessel, associate professor and chair, politics and government
    • Andy Rex, professor, physics

 Representing the students:

    • Nakisha Renee Jones ’16, president, ASUPS

 Representing the staff:

    • Katie Barosky, Office of Communications

 Representing our alumni:

    • Leslie Skinner Brown 92, president, Alumni Council

 And providing staff support to the committee:

    • Cindy Matern, associate vice president for human resources and career and employment services

We extend our sincere appreciation to each and every member of the committee for their extremely hard work over the past months, delving through nearly 100 applications, identifying and participating in interviews with 10 semifinalists, and narrowing that pool still further to our finalists. I also wish to thank President Thomas and my fellow trustees for their support throughout, and all of you for your feedback and suggestions throughout the process.

Our search began in earnest in late August, with Dr. Ferrare and his colleagues coming to campus to meet with students, faculty, and staff about the qualities sought in Puget Sound’s next leader and the priorities for a new president.

That resulted in the development of a Presidential Search Profile, which became the guiding document for our search. In this document we provided an overview of Puget Sound: the academic program, the people, and the place. We laid out our leadership priorities and the qualities we hoped our next president would possess. All of this has been available on Puget Sound’s website, and many of you took advantage of the opportunity to review it and provide your feedback.

As shared in one of my regular communications to campus, we were also extremely pleased with the diversity of our candidates. Our applicant pool included sitting presidents and other leaders at some truly outstanding colleges in more than 30 states, plus three international universities. Our 10 semifinalist candidates included four women and six men, of whom four were persons from underrepresented groups.

It has been a collaborative process and has delivered outstanding results, but I also want to acknowledge that a closed search is very challenging for the campus community. There are many reasons why candidates might choose for their candidacy to remain confidential, and in this particular search, our committee was unanimous in recognizing that a confidential process was necessary in order to keep our most talented candidates in the pool. 

That said, faculty, student, and staff representatives on the committee worked very hard to create a process for additional campus input into the process, which involved an additional 30 students, 15 faculty members, 15 staff members, and 15 alumni in interviews with our finalists.

The board of trustees has taken all of this into consideration as we nominated and elected Puget Sound’s 14th president just moments before entering this room today. Our incoming president rose throughout the process to become a clear choice for Puget Sound. Best suited to this institution, at this place and time. Best equipped to leverage the opportunities and meet the challenges that face Puget Sound today and in the future.

That person is Dr. Isiaah Crawford.

A distinguished teacher, scholar, and college administrator, President-elect Crawford’s academic work and achievements are closely aligned with the values and aspirations of Puget Sound. He emerged from a highly accomplished and diverse pool of candidates as a talented leader well suited to build on the strong legacy built by President Thomas, our board of trustees, and all of you. 

Dr. Crawford is a tenured psychology professor and licensed clinical psychologist with three decades of experience in higher education. He earned degrees from St. Louis University and DePaul University in Chicago, and began his teaching career in 1987 at Loyola University Chicago, where he chaired the Department of Psychology and served as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Since 2008 he has served as provost for Seattle University, where he directs the Division of Academic Affairs and oversees the university’s schools and colleges, libraries, enrollment, information technology, institutional research, and offices supporting academic achievement, faculty affairs, and global engagement.

His appointment represents a natural extension of our mission and values. As Puget Sound’s 14th president, I believe he is as an exciting a next step, for this next chapter, as we could ever hope for.

It is my great pleasure to introduce to you President-elect Isiaah Crawford.