Meredith College Presidential Seal

MEREDITH COLLEGE
Presidential Search

Presidential Search

Chartered in 1891, Meredith College is now one of the largest women’s colleges in the United States. Our student body has grown to include approximately 1,600 students, including men who are part of our graduate programs. Meredith offers more than 90 majors and minors and 34 graduate and certificate programs.

With a strong endowment and continued academic growth, an ideal location in the capital city of Raleigh, N.C., and a community of impressive faculty, committed staff, and engaged students and alumnae, Meredith represents an exciting opportunity for a talented leader to serve as its ninth president. Learn more about what makes Meredith College Strong.

As Meredith College embarks on the search for a new president, Board Chair Charles Royal introduces himself and provides information about the search process.

Position Profile

The presidential search committee, with input from the Meredith community, developed a position profile that defines the qualities and characteristics the Meredith community is seeking in its next president.

Presidential Search Committee

The Presidential Search Committee includes representatives from the faculty, staff, student body, and Board of Trustees. Having a diverse pool of candidates for Meredith’s ninth president is a priority, and in support of that goal, the Board has been deliberate in making sure the search committee represents the College’s faculty, staff, and students.

Search Committee Members

Trustee Representatives

Christie Bishop Barbee, ’83

David Branch

Lena Epps Brooker, ’62

Dr. Yvette Brown, ’90

Andrea Oakley Fox, ’95

Ella Plyler Frantz, ’80, co-chair

Leslie Landis Hayes, ’80, co-chair

Charles Royal, ex-officio 

Chuck Stuber

Faculty, Staff, and Student Representatives

Dr. Karthik Aghoram, Professor of Biological Sciences, Director of Meredith’s Pre-Health Post-baccalaureate Program

Astra Ball, Director of Advancement Services

Jillian Jackson, ’26, Resident Assistant 

Dr. Alisa Johnson, Associate Professor of English and Assistant Dean of Arts and Humanities

Cathie Ostrowski, Director of Meredith’s Dietetic Internship Program

Trustee Dr. David Warren, retired president of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, and Trustee Emeritus Sam Ewell, board chair during Meredith’s previous presidential search, will serve as advisors to the search committee.

Committee Co-Chairs

Trustees Ella Plyler Frantz, ’80, and Leslie Landis Hayes, ’80 are the co-chairs of Meredith College’s Presidential Search committee. Both of these alumnae have held leadership positions on the Board of Trustees and have a long track record of involvement at Meredith.

Community Input

The input of the Meredith community will be important to the presidential search process. 

Our executive search firm, Academic Search, visited campus for listening sessions on October 31 and November 1, 2023.

The Board of Trustees is also committed to keeping all Meredith stakeholders informed as the search progresses. Regular updates about the process, including opportunities to contribute, will be provided through messages from the search committee chairs or the chair of the Board of Trustees.

Executive Search Firm

Following a robust selection process, the Meredith College Board of Trustees has engaged Academic Search, a recognized leader in higher education searches, to serve as our partner and facilitate the search process. Our team from Academic Search will be led by its president, Jay Lemons, along with Suzanne Mellon and Jennifer Kooken.

As a first step, the firm will assist the search committee in the development of a position profile, which will define the qualities and characteristics the Meredith community is seeking in its ninth president.

UPDATES

Dear Meredith College Community Members, 

On behalf of the presidential search committee, we write to provide you with an update on the search for the ninth president of Meredith College. The search process has been progressing exceptionally well, and we have been pleased with the impressive group of extremely talented and experienced leaders who are exploring the Meredith presidency. We remain on pace to have a new president in place this summer. 

Consistent with the Board of Trustees’ decision to conduct the search in a manner that would attract the strongest candidates, we have used the confidential approach that was followed when Dr. Allen came to Meredith. This approach has allowed very talented and visible leaders to engage in the search. As a result, we are not yet able to reveal the identities of the finalists, but we are excited and eager for them to get to know Meredith more fully in the coming weeks. The search committee, made up of representatives from across the campus community, has been diligent and thoughtful in their work and has honored the confidential nature of the search, which has been critical to ensuring a successful process. 

We appreciate your interest, patience, and trust as we continue the critical work to identify and recruit our next president. We are confident the process will result in an inspiring and engaging leader for Meredith College. 

We look forward to this next stage of the search and will keep you informed as the final steps unfold.    

Sincerely,

Ella Plyler Frantz, ’80

Leslie Landis Hayes, ’80 

Trustees & Co-Chairs, Presidential Search Committee

Dear Meredith College Community Members, 

On behalf of the presidential search committee, we write to provide you with an update on the search for the 9th president of Meredith College. We are pleased to report that there was a very strong response to the outreach and recruitment efforts for the search, which resulted in a large, robust, and diverse pool of talented applicants with broad and varied backgrounds and experiences. 

The search committee met earlier this week to identify a group of outstanding candidates to invite for initial interviews. We are extremely pleased with the quality and depth of experience of these candidates. We will continue our work over the next several weeks, conducting multiple rounds of interviews, and performing the kind of due diligence you might expect with a presidential search. 

While the search committee continues to observe strict confidentiality to protect those who are engaged in the search, be assured that we are dedicated to the important task and common goal of identifying an exceptional new leader for Meredith College. 

We will continue to share additional news about the search as the process unfolds. 

Thank you for your continued interest and support. 

Ella Plyler Frantz, ’80
Leslie Landis Hayes, ’80 
Trustees & Co-Chairs, Presidential Search Committee

The message below is being sent on behalf of Ella Frantz and Leslie Hayes, co-chairs of Meredith’s presidential search committee.

Dear Meredith College Community Members, 

On behalf of the Presidential Search Committee, we are pleased to announce that the next phase of the search for the ninth president of Meredith College is about to get underway. Within the coming days, the team from Academic Search will begin soliciting and accepting applications for the Meredith College presidency. 

The community’s participation in the survey and on-campus meetings with Academic Search has significantly enhanced the search process. The insights gleaned from the survey and meetings have been invaluable in helping inform the Search Committee’s understanding of the skills, attributes, and important work ahead for our next president. Working collaboratively with Academic Search, we have prepared a search profile to provide an overview of Meredith College, outline the key priorities and institutional needs, and describe the desired qualities and characteristics for our next president. The search profile will be used to introduce Meredith and the presidential opportunity to prospective candidates. 

The formal recruiting process will begin with Academic Search’s publishing the position in a wide variety of online publications. Over the coming weeks and months, Academic Search will identify candidates, actively encourage promising candidates to apply, and receive applications. If you would like to recommend someone, please send their name and contact information directly to MeredithPresident@academicsearch.org.  

The Search Committee will begin reviewing applications in mid-January shortly before the January 22, 2024 deadline. We are excited about this work and have confidence the search will bring us an energetic and inspiring leader who will strategically build on the momentum and success of the past decade and strengthen Meredith for the future.   

We will provide periodic progress updates, which will be emailed to the campus community and posted on the Presidential Search webpage

Your support and contributions to date are greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Sincerely, 

Ella Plyler Frantz,  ’80

Leslie Landis Hayes, ’80 

Trustees & Co-Chairs, Presidential Search Committee

meredith.edu/presidential-search/

As part of Meredith College’s presidential search process, Academic Search has created a confidential survey for faculty/staff, students, and alumnae. 

The survey was sent via email and will remain available until Thursday, November 9 at midnight. Please check your Meredith College email for the survey link. The Search Committee invites and appreciates your input and insights in this early but important stage of the search.

The message below is being sent on behalf of Charles Royal, chair of the Meredith College Board of Trustees.

Meredith College Community,

We continue to make progress on the Presidential Search. Yesterday, we shared news about the search firm, the search process, and provided information about some upcoming opportunities for input. If you missed that announcement, you can find it here.

Today, I am pleased to let you know that the Meredith College Board of Trustees has appointed a Presidential Search Committee to assist in the presidential selection process. Members of the Committee are listed below.

Trustee Representatives

Christie Bishop Barbee, ’83

David Branch

Lena Epps Brooker, ’62

Dr. Yvette Brown, ’90

Andrea Oakley Fox, ’95

Ella Plyler Frantz, ’80, co-chair

Leslie Landis Hayes, ’80, co-chair

Chuck Stuber

Faculty, Staff, and Student Representatives

Dr. Karthik Aghoram, Professor of Biological Sciences, Director of Meredith’s Pre-Health Post-baccalaureate Program

Astra Ball, Director of Advancement Services

Jillian Jackson, ’26, Resident Assistant 

Dr. Alisa Johnson, Associate Professor of English and Assistant Dean of Arts and Humanities

Cathie Ostrowski, Director of Meredith’s Dietetic Internship Program

As board chair, I will serve as an ex-officio search committee member. Trustee Dr. David Warren, retired president of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, and Trustee Emeritus Sam Ewell, board chair during Meredith’s previous presidential search, will serve as advisors to the search committee.

On behalf of the Board, we are grateful to each of these dedicated individuals from across our community for making the commitment to participate in this search.

Thank you for your ongoing interest and participation in this process. Please continue to check your email and the Presidential Search website for updates.

Sincerely,

Charles Royal

Chair, Meredith College Board of Trustees

The message below is being sent on behalf of Charles Royal, Chair of the Meredith College Board of Trustees.

Dear Meredith College Community Members,

As you know, President Allen announced in August her plans to retire by the end of the 2023-24 academic year. Since then, a great deal of organizational work has gone on, and I write today to share important developments regarding the plans for recruiting a talented new leader for Meredith College.

Search Firm Selected & Input Session Dates Scheduled

Following a robust selection process, we have engaged Academic Search, a recognized leader in higher education searches, to serve as our partner and facilitate the search process. Our team from Academic Search will be led by its president, Jay Lemons, along with Suzanne Mellon and Jennifer Kooken. 

The Academic Search team will be on campus for listening sessions with faculty, staff, and student representatives on October 31 and November 1, 2023. Fac_all, staff_all, and other invite messages with additional details are forthcoming.

These sessions will be a critical way for members of the Meredith community to offer input on the important priorities and qualities needed in our next president.

Search Process

The Board of Trustees, after considerable thought and discussion, has made the determination to conduct the search in the same manner as the previous presidential search that brought us President Allen. This means that the search will be conducted in a confidential manner, and there will not be open sessions with finalists at the end of the process. A confidential search offers candidates the opportunity to explore and pursue the presidency of Meredith College without risk of compromising their current positions. It also enables Meredith to attract the most talented, highly qualified candidates, most of whom we anticipate will hold key leadership positions at other institutions or organizations. We are confident this approach will again bring an exceptional leader to Meredith College.

Future Communication

Presidential Search webpage has been created as a central resource for keeping you updated on the search process. The site includes copies of all communication updates, information about the process, and a video interview with me about what we are looking for in Meredith’s next president and the role of diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

Please continue to check this site as the search progresses. Future updates will be made available on the site as soon as possible after distribution. 

Thank you for your interest and support.

Charles Royal

Chair, Meredith College Board of Trustees

Dear Meredith Community:

On behalf of the Meredith College Board of Trustees, I am writing to update you on the search for Meredith’s next president. The role of the board is to oversee the strategic direction of an institution, which includes the selection of its president.

In the weeks since President Jo Allen, ’80, announced her plans to retire at the end of this academic year, the trustees have been working to outline the search process.  

Presidential Search Committee Leadership

I am pleased to announce that  Ella Plyler Frantz, ’80, and Leslie Landis Hayes, ’80, two current trustees, have agreed to serve as co-chairs of Meredith College’s Presidential Search committee. Both of these alumnae have held leadership positions on the board of trustees and have a long track record of involvement at Meredith.

A Meredith English graduate, Frantz is currently serving as vice chair of the Board of Trustees after chairing the Academic and Campus Life committee for several years.  

Hayes is a former chair of the Meredith College Board of Trustees. She holds a B.S. in Business Administration and a B.A. in Religion from Meredith. Hayes enjoyed a 39-year career as an executive in the banking industry before her retirement a few years ago.

Timeline and Next Steps

With the Presidential Search Committee leadership in place, the board’s executive committee has turned its attention to finalizing the selection of an experienced, national higher education executive search firm to help facilitate the search process. 

Our goal is to have the search committee selected in October. One of the roles of the search committee will be to facilitate the development of a presidential profile, which will define the qualities and characteristics the Meredith community is seeking in its next president.

Once the search firm has been selected, our next step will be to name the remaining members of the Presidential Search Committee. As you may recall from previous communications, the search committee will have representatives from the faculty, staff, student body, and additional trustees. 

Ongoing Communication

The input of the Meredith community will be important to this process. Every effort will be made to keep you informed as the search progresses. You can expect regular updates about the process, including opportunities to contribute, through messages from me or the search committee chairs. 

I look forward to working with the Presidential Search Committee, the search firm, and the College community to identify a dynamic and visionary leader to serve as Meredith’s ninth president.

Sincerely,

Charles Royal

Chair, Meredith College Board of Trustees

During today’s State of the College address for faculty and staff, Dr. Jo Allen,’80, the eighth president and first alumna president of Meredith College, announced her plans to retire by the end of the 2023-24 academic year. 

While this news is never easy to hear, we are happy for Jo as she starts another chapter. Her retirement is well-deserved!

The Board of Trustees has the primary responsibility of selecting a successor to Dr. Allen. In the coming weeks, we will form a search committee with members from our faculty, staff, alumnae, and students. We will also retain a national search firm with experience in academic leadership searches to help guide the search process. 

As you all know, Dr. Allen is an outstanding president and has and will continue to make a lasting impact on the entire Meredith community. Now in her 13th year as president, Dr. Allen has led the College through significant growth. The 2012-18 comprehensive fundraising campaign, the largest in Meredith’s history, raised over $90 million with 33 gifts of $1 million or more. Ongoing fundraising, despite the pandemic, has consistently generated over $10 million per year.  

Dr. Allen has also led the College through extensive capital projects on its beautiful 225-acre campus, including the addition of the new Elizabeth Triplett Beam Fountain Plaza, the Dickson Foundation Community Garden, the Lowery Fitness Center, and the Communication and Health, Exercise & Sport Sciences (CHESS) academic building. In addition, extensive renovations to Belk Dining Hall, Jones Auditorium, Carlyle Campbell Library, Jones Chapel, Johnson Hall, Mae Grimmer House, Moore Drive House, all residence halls, the Nifong Nutrition Lab, Weatherspoon Gym, and the Meredith Lake provide state-of-the-art, accessible, and vibrant learning/living spaces. In process are the extended renovations to Jones Auditorium and a new sports complex for tennis and softball.

Dr. Allen is especially proud of the efforts to boost community commitments and inclusion. Through the pandemic, no employees were laid off or furloughed; emergency fund sources were established or enhanced to help students and employees with unanticipated expenses. A renewed commitment to inclusion and belonging reinforced the spirit of the Meredith community, especially at times when remote work and study were necessary.

In her career in higher education, Dr. Allen has been a tenured, full professor of English/technical and scientific communication and served in various faculty and/or administrative positions at East Carolina University, NC State University, and Widener University before becoming president of Meredith. In addition, she has served in various leadership roles in higher education organizations, including the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (board chair), the North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities (board chair), the USA South Athletic Conference (chair of the President’s Council), Middle States Commission on Higher Education (Commissioner), SACSCOC (Board of Directors), Cooperating Raleigh Colleges (chair of the President’s Council), and more.  

A well-published scholar and award-winning writer in her field, Dr. Allen has also served in her discipline’s various organizations, as well as on editorial boards and accreditation teams. 

About her tenure as president, Dr. Allen said, “Being president of my alma mater—a college that so enriched my life by helping me identify my life’s goals and build my confidence, my sense of purpose, and my network of friends and supporters—has been an honor and privilege. Few people have the opportunity to live full circle with the closing of a career at the very place that career began to take shape. I am grateful beyond measure for all those who have helped prepare and sustain me all these years.”

We have benefited from the 12 years Dr. Allen has been leading the college, and she is committed to helping us all move forward. Please join me in congratulating Dr. Allen on her many contributions, and we look forward to her leadership this year.

Sincerely,

Charles Royal

Chair, Meredith College Board of Trustees

About the Current Meredith President

President Jo Allen, ’80

President Jo Allen posing on Johnson Hall Balcony.

Dr. Jo Allen is the first alumna to lead Meredith College. A graduate of the Class of 1980, Allen was named president of the institution in April 2011. As president of one of the largest private colleges for women in the United States, Allen is a strong advocate for women’s education. She brought her experience as a faculty member, administrator, and scholar to her role as president of her alma mater. 

Previous Presidents

Jo Allen 2011-present

Maureen A. Hartford 1999-2011

John E. Weems 1971-1999

E. Bruce Heilman 1966-1971

Carlyle Campbell 1939-1966

Charles Edward Brewer 1915-1939

Richard Tilman Vann 1900-1915

James C. Blasingame 1899-1900