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Monday, Feb. 26, 2024
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Consulting firm used by AU to find new officials has history of unsuccessful searches

Storbeck Search linked to two past failures in searches for presidents at other universities

Storbeck Search, the firm currently being used by American University to find a new vice president of student affairs and vice president of undergraduate enrollment, has a history of rocky searches for presidents at several universities, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Storbeck faced scrutiny after the search committee at the University of Maine, Augusta was not told about several no-confidence votes cast against a candidate for the president position at a previous university. At the University of Wisconsin, Madison, the leading candidate for the school’s president withdrew from consideration after faculty members pointed out he was also the subject of no-confidence votes at his previous university. 

AU President Sylvia Burwell identified Storbeck as the firm it would use to fill the new positions in a Feb. 10 email to the AU community announcing the search for candidates.  

“We are immediately launching searches for the vice president of student affairs and the vice president of undergraduate enrollment. These two searches will be coordinated by Storbeck, a firm with extensive higher education recruitment experience,” Burwell wrote in the email. 

University officials said Storbeck alone is not solely responsible for recruiting new candidates and said Storbeck has been used before by the University. Previous firms used in University searches include Diversified Search, which Storbeck became a part of in February 2020, and Witt/Kiefer

"We have used the Storbeck Search firm in successful recruiting for several leadership positions at AU, including CAS Dean Linda Aldoory and University Librarian Jeehyun Davis,” University Internal Communications Manager Jasmine Pelaez wrote in an email to The Eagle. “For the current VP of Student Affairs and VP of Undergraduate Enrollment searches, we are working with Storbeck to source potential candidates for the committee.”

The University uses a variety of methods to hire new officials, including consulting with campus stakeholders and having representatives from the AU community participate in on-campus interviews with candidates. 

“The final hiring decision is made by university leadership based on a variety of factors–including the interview process, stakeholder feedback, and candidate references, among others–and which candidate will best meet the needs of our community,” Pelaez wrote. “Storbeck does not determine the final outcome." 

The University has seen transitions in several high-level positions over the past three years, including multiple of Burwell’s cabinet members and several deans, some of which were filled internally and some from external candidates. 

Pelaez did not answer The Eagle’s question on whether or not the University was aware of past issues with Storbeck Search in the initial inquiry made by The Eagle. 

This article was edited by Abigail Turner, Jordan Young and Abigail Pritchard. Copy editing done by Isabelle Kravis, Leta Lattin and Stella Guzik. 

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