On Aug. 14, 2023, the Meredith College community received an email announcing the retirement of current Meredith president, Dr. Jo Allen, at the conclusion of the 2023-2024 academic year. Allen has been the college’s president since 2011 and is the first Meredith alumna to serve as the college’s president. The email was sent on behalf of the Meredith College Board of Trustees. Since then, the Board of Trustees has sent additional emails to the Meredith community about the search, including a link to a survey asking the Meredith community about the college’s future and the qualities they would like for the next president.
The search trustees and co-chairs, Ella Plyler Frantz, ‘80, and Leslie Landis Hayes, ‘80, shared that the search is still “in the early stages”, but explained the “important foundational steps” taken during the process, including the hiring of the executive search firm Academic Search and creating a website for the search. Frantz and Hayes described Academic Search as a selection of an “executive search firm and the appointment of search committee members.” The Academic Search team is led by the company’s president, Jay Lemons, along with Suzanne Melton and Jennifer Kooken. Frantz and Hayes described the selection process for the Board as “deliberate in making sure the search committee represents the College’s faculty, staff, and students.”
Frantz and Hayes also stated that the presidential search will “follow a very similar process to the searches used to hire previous presidents, including current President Allen.” In accordance with archival pieces published by The Herald in 2010, the college hosted public forums about the presidential search during the process of Allen’s hiring. According to the college’s presidential search website, Academic Search “visited campus for listening sessions on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, 2023.”
The full Board of Trustees for the search are Frantz, Hayes, Christie Bishop Barbee, ’83, David Branch, Lena Epps Brooker, ’62, Dr. Yvette Brown, ’80, Andrea Oakley Fox, ’95, and Chuck Stuber. The faculty, staff and student representatives include Dr. Karthik Aghoram, Professor of Biological Sciences and Director of Meredith’s Pre-Health Post-baccalaureate Program, Astra Ball, Director of Advanmcement Services,Jillian Jackson, ’26, Resident Assistant, Dr. Alisa Johnson, Associate Professor of English aand Assistant Dean of Arts and Humanities and Cathie Ostrowski, Director of Meredith’s Dietetic Internship Program.
Jackson did not respond to The Herald’s request for comment.
As for the search’s full timeline, Frantz and Hayes noted that a timeline “will be determined by the Board of Trustees and guided by the work of the search committee. The Board has not announced a date by which they will announce the next president. When additional information is available to share, it will be communicated by the Board of Trustees.”
For more information about the presidential search, individuals can visit https://www.meredith.edu/presidential-search/.
By Kat Whetstone, Reporter
Photo by Grayson Morris