“This is a great place and we can compete with anyone anywhere anytime.” Western Michigan community ‘excited’ for future with new president WMU Trustee Ron Kitchens called Montgomery an authentic leader. “This isn’t somebody with a resume and a firm handshake,” he said. “This is a man who his entire career has gotten up and led. He’s a man whose father pulled himself from being a mechanic to being one of the most renowned historians in the country and that work ethic permeates Dr. Montgomery.” Kitchens said he believes Montgomery will build on the tradition of presidents before him to be student-centered. “The Internet will be flooded with selfies of he and students together,” Kitchens said. Montgomery had a large pool of employees as the deputy director of the labor department and had to think in a global perspective, said Kitchens, who interacted with Montgomery when he was the Auto Czar. “I saw a leader who came to our state and listened,” Kitchens said, before he broughtresources to help others achieve success. “He transitioned communities, he helped transition companies, but he listened.” Trustee William Johnston chaired the 22-member search committee that reviewed a pool of 78 applicants and interviewed nine, before recommending three who the board of trustees to interviewed. He said the candidates who rose to the top had a complete set of experiences in academia, and also leadership roles. Montgomery is a “transformational leader” who can help the school advance beyond where it is now, Johnston said. “In his experience in the federal government, he was tasked with doing really important thingsin the Department of Labor and also under Obama during the severe recession, to help the auto industry,” he said. The angst Johnston said he felt about whether or not the search would attractthe right people was relieved once he met the nine people the committee interviewed. The confidential search, a different process than past WMU president searches when finalists were revealed and interviewed publicly, was part of the reason for its sucess, he said. Candidates for university president should be vetted publicly, advocates say “I am absolutely convinced and the search firm is absolutely convinced that we wouldn’t have had the final three candidates had we had a search process that would have disclosed them,” Johnston said. “And I think probably the consensus of the presidential search advisory committee, some of whom really had a struggle with that, right, but I think they came to learn, in this particular era of executive searches for higher education, that’s how you get the best candidates.
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