Union searches for president to raise national profile

Under Ainlay’s leadership, school has consistently topped records for number of applicants
Union College President Stephen Ainlay speaks in front of the new science and engineering complex in December.
Union College President Stephen Ainlay speaks in front of the new science and engineering complex in December.

Union College is aiming to name its new president later this winter and is looking for someone who will help raise the school’s national profile, according to the position’s job description.

The 13-page job description, which was posted in the fall, emphasizes Union’s position as a liberal arts college with strong science and engineering programs and outlines the areas the new president will need to focus on in the coming years, including boosting the college’s reputation across the country.

“While the college is highly regarded in the Northeast, its reputation is less established in other parts of the country,” according to the job description. “The next president will raise Union’s national visibility by serving as its chief advocate and spokesperson to … ensure its academic leadership among the very finest educational institutions in the country.”

National search firm Isaacson, Miller is leading the search to replace President Stephen Ainlay, who in August announced plans to retire in June. The college’s Board of Trustees hopes to name Ainlay’s replacement later this winter, according to Union’s website. The new president would take over July 1.

The college put together a search committee of trustees and faculty members in the fall, which will be responsible for interviewing candidates for the job.

The job posting describes the college’s financial position as “strong and competitive” but also suggests Union, along with other colleges across the country, will face a challenging economic environment in the coming years as the overall number of high school graduates slides.

“Economic and demographic forecasts challenge all liberal arts colleges and suggest that stresses on finances will only build,” the description reads.

The posting calls for a leader with a “genuine commitment” to recruiting diverse students, faculty and staff. While the college has diversified its student body in recent years, it has done little to increase the college’s socioeconomic diversity.

Under Ainlay’s leadership, Union has consistently topped records for the number of applicants and the most recent class was the college’s most competitive. During that time, with a boost from a hockey national championship, Union has gained more national recognition and increased the locales from which it draws students.

The college is looking for a new president to build on Ainlay’s legacy.

“The next president will bring broad intellectual curiosity; an inclusive, collaborative leadership style; financial and fundraising acumen; and a natural inclination toward community engagement,” according to the job listing.

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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