Search for president continues

Committee has narrowed down the applicant pool into a diverse group. 

By Erin Albright, staff writer
Photo from
The presidential search committee is looking for someone to replace
Father Graham. An announcement could come sometime in December.

With just under eight months until the new university president assumes office, the Presidential Search Committee recently announced it is pleased with the diverse and impressive candidate pool. 

Some members of the committee have noted that an announcement of the decision could come as soon as December. 

Current President, Father Michael Graham, is the longest-serving university president, ending his tenure after 20 years. Father Graham stepped into the role on July 1, 2001 after his successor, Father Jim Hoff, chose to step down from the position. Graham’s last official day as president is June 30, 2021.

Graham announced his plan to step down at the end of his annual Spring Convocation speech to parents earlier this year. In a letter addressed to the Xavier community, Graham explained the significance of why he chose 2021 to be the year he ends his tenure.

“Simply put, Xavier University has never been stronger than it is now, in any number of ways: stronger financially, stronger in terms of the quality of its faculty and staff, stronger in terms of its enrollment efforts… I will step down in 2021 because it is in the best interest of Xavier University for me to do so… it has therefore never been better prepared to attract a visionary and capable leader,” he said 

Spring 2021 also marks up the end of a 10-year-long accreditation review by the Higher Learning Commission. 

In addition, the university is nearly complete with the Together For Others capital campaign. This fundraising plan is aimed at strengthening the future of the Xavier, to be completed together as a community.

Graham’s successor will be chosen by a credible pool of Xavier trustees, professors, students, alumni and administrators. The Presidential Search Committee, appointed by the Board of Trustees, is on track with the timeline originally published at the beginning of the search. The committee is working in conjunction with the national executive search firm Isaacson, Miller. 

In a letter from the Board, members noted their excitement in the process: “Xavier has a strong foundation. Thank you to each member of our Xavier community as we congratulate Father Graham and begin our transition to a new University leader.”

The search was launched nationwide in early June 2020. Barbara Howard, chair and Xavier grad ‘76, explained that the candidate pool has been vast and highly experienced. 

On these candidates so far, Howard said, “It started literally with hundreds of candidates… It was a significantly impressive response.”

The names of the candidates are being held in strict confidence due to the expansive group of applicants and nature of the search. No names or finalists for the position will be shared, and the committee’s selection will be shared at the appropriate time in the process.

In an update released on Oct. 21, the committee said they recently met with Isaacson, Miller to review the pool, and had invited a select number to advance in the search. The candidates were to be interviewed last month. 

The presidential search profile outlines an extensive list of qualifications and characteristics that Graham’s successor must meet. 

These included the individual being a spiritual leader, preferably a doctorate holder, having proven experience and leadership in times of crisis and uncertainty and having an established and successful record in fundraising. There is a specific emphasis on a president who will carry on the Jesuit mission in the school.

“I am confident we will be happy with the result because of the nature of the process,” Howard commented on the next University president. 

Father Graham will retire after this school year, and the 35th president will assume office on July 1, 2021.