Thousands spent for new president
After an inconclusive first search, a new search locates president, but costs add up
Over the course of seven months Georgia College paid the executive search firm, Heidricks & Struggles, $118,978.71 for their services in locating a new university president.
According to Assistant Vice President for Budget & Planning Susan Allen, the payments came out of the university’s general funds and the Board of Regents chose the search firm.
Heidricks & Struggles’ website says they are the first leadership advisory firm, blending executive searches and leadership consulting.
“Through our Leadership Advisory framework, we help companies attract, develop and retain the world’s most talented individuals,” says the firm’s website. “For nearly 60 years, we have helped the world to be better led.”
For the firm’s services, GC made two payments of $27,778 and one of $27,777.
Costs for indirect expenses, paid in three installments, came to $10,000. The university was billed over $6,500 for advertisements in various publications.
Candidate interview expenses added $6,078.63 to the total cost.
Travel expenses racked up over $12,400 in charges during the search period. Consultant travel cost $3,767.20, while candidate travel bankrolled at $8,724.88.
Chair of the search committee, Ken McGill, said the cost of the search was acceptable.
“The takeaway point here is that you don’t want to do a presidential search on the cheap because you don’t want to have to do another one,” McGill said. “You really want to do it right. You don’t want to do it on the quick and dirty and get somebody that’s only going to stick around for two years. It takes a good bit of time.”
Some students agree with McGill and think the cost was for the best.
“It sounds like a ridiculous number, but to find the best president, I think it’s worth it,” Heidi Bireley, freshman undeclared major, said.
Others, however, believe the money could have been put to a better use.
“I think they may have overspent on the search,” Abbey Cole, freshman biology major, said. “I’d like to see the money go toward upgrading buildings on campus.”
While the search was in progress, Stas Preczewski served as interim president and received $257,349.30, the same sum he was paid at his previous position at Georgia Gwinnett College. This fall Preczewski is back at GGC.
Aside from the financial costs, the time commitment by the 10-member Presidential Search and Screen Committee was extensive.
McGill said he set aside a minimum of eight hours a week to work on his search duties.
“I was easily spending … I would say minimal, one day a week.”
Committee members met with about 18 candidates off-campus before narrowing the field. McGill said the vast majority of the interviews were in Georgia, but a few meetings were conducted over video conferencing.