Search Updates

Please refer to this page regularly for updates to the Presidential Search.

To nominate a candidate or to send comments to the Search Committee or representatives from WittKieffer Executive Search, email

Visit the Presidential Search Web Page
View the Presidential and Institutional Profile

SEARCH UPDATE: April 26, 2022

Dear Mount Mary Community,

We are writing to inform you that the board has been diligently working to select Mount Mary University’s next president, and we are in the final stages of the process. While we understand that waiting for these updates has been challenging, we appreciate your patience. Please know that the board has been thoughtfully engaged with the search and it is our deep commitment to, and care for, Mount Mary that has dictated the timeline for the process. We will provide additional information to the campus community as soon as we can responsibly communicate an announcement date.

We look forward to this next exciting chapter in Mount Mary’s future.


Stephanie Russell and Mary Jo Layden
Search Committee Co-Chairs

SEARCH UPDATE: April 12, 2022

Dear Members of the Mount Mary University Community,

Peace and blessings in this holy season!

As the search process for Mount Mary's next President continues, we want you to know that the Board of Trustees continues to meet, and to engage in discernment regarding a candidate who can take Mount Mary confidently into the future. Thoughtful search processes take time, and therefore we appreciate your patience. Know that the Board is laboring on your behalf, as we talk with those who visited our campus.

Your prayers for the process remain a gift to this work, and we will update you with additional information as it is available.

All God's continued blessings,

Stephanie Russell and Mary Jo Layden
Search Committee Co-Chairs

Presidential Search Prayer – Monday, March 21, 2022

In a world that is riven with division in many places, Mount Mary University stakes out the counter-cultural spiritual ground of love and unity. Core to our mission is the sacredness of each person and the belief that God is at work in us as a whole – we are more authentically loving as a body than we are apart. The presidential search has been yet another example of this complementarity, as our entire campus community has come together to work, pray, and otherwise support an outcome that leads to all of us being more loving and united in service. Our gratitude for you in this process continues to grow.

Dr. Don Rappé, Professor of Theology, helps us in today's prayer to remember that the ground of love and unity stems from the very center of our faith. Through the lens of the early Christian community, we are invited to value each other and link arms for a purpose outside ourselves.

With gratitude,

Stephanie Russell and Mary Jo Layden
Search Committee Co-Chairs


Mount Mary Search Prayer

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

(1 Corinthians 12:4-7)

Twenty centuries ago, Paul directed these words to a community that had begun to weaken and divide due to the narrowing perspectives of self-interested factions. In response to those unfolding concerns, the apostle encourages his audience to strive for the realization of a more egalitarian community, in which everyone counts as essential to the functional well-being of the whole, each contributing according the ways in which she or he is best able. Further on in the text, Paul likens such a community to a healthy body governed by “a more excellent way,” love – the kind that “endures all” and does not aggrandize the individual. In this context, the faithful, committed leader serves as a catalyst to ensure the thriving of the entire body, guiding it with sound judgment in an open spirit of collaboration and compassion.

God of wisdom and of love, be with us as we move forward in the search for our next Mount Mary president. May our co-chairs and the other members of the Board of Trustees carry out their respective tasks with understanding and critical discernment. May your Spirit enliven the abilities and efforts of the search committee and the faculty, staff, and students to find best type of leader for our diverse and multi-talented community. May our next president honor the foundation set in place by the School Sisters of Notre Dame, and value the multiple ways in which this community commits itself to the encouragement and support of its students and employees. May our next leader live and breathe our mission and its enduring values, and may we stand ready to assist them in this essential good work. We ask this with humility, You who know not only our strengths but our shortcomings; with hope for what will be; and with praise and deep gratitude for the collective work that has brought Mount Mary to this point in her history. To all this we say: Amen, Amen, Amen (Yes – Truly, Truly, Truly!)

Donald Rappé, Ph.D.
Professor of Theology

Presidential Search Prayer – Monday, March 14, 2022

Dear Mount Mary Community,

As we continue the process of meeting candidates, we engage fully into a process of discovery. As we learn about the gifts and perspectives of leaders, we deepen our understanding of our own community's mission and vision for the future. This spirit-filled journey is enriched through the many voices that make up our unique and multi-faceted community.

This week, we are grateful to Mount Mary student, Jacqueline Reyes, '22, for composing our prayer for the campus. This prayer, beautiful in English and Spanish, enriches our appreciation of the many voices that join in community as we humbly ask God to guide our journey.


Stephanie Russell and Mary Jo Layden
Search Committee Co-Chairs


Mount Mary Search Prayer

God, as we embark on a new journey as a University grounded in the Gospel, we ask for your blessings on our search for a President who will guide Mount Mary into the future. We thank you for your help and grace that have always been with us, and that have led us to this new era of excellence in education. Give us courage and send the Holy Spirit to inspire the best person to step forward and lead Mount Mary University. Amen.

Dios, mientras nos embarcamos en un nuevo camino como una Universidad basada en el Evangelio, te pedimos tus bendiciones en nuestra búsqueda de un presidente que guíe a Mount Mary hacia el futuro. Te agradecemos por tu ayuda y gracia que siempre han estado con nosotros y que nos han llevado a esta nueva era de excelencia en la educación. Danos el valor, y envía el Espíritu Santo para inspirar a la mejor persona a dar un paso adelante y dirigir Mount Mary. Amen.

Jacqueline Reyes, ‘22

Presidential Search Prayer – Monday, March 7, 2022

Dear Mount Mary Community,

The role of prayer in the search for Mount Mary's next President is hard to overstate. Joining our voices as one community and asking our Creator to bless and guide the process brings us all closer in these months of transition. Prayer also opens us to the renewing and hopeful Spirit of God that sustains us daily. Thank you for lifting the candidates, interviewers, and entire Mount Mary community in your prayers. In so doing, each of us offers a clear "yes" to the mission on which we are founded.

This week, we are grateful for the spiritual leadership of Mount Mary's Director of Campus Ministry, Theresa Utschig, who has composed a common prayer for the campus. May God continue to guide us and bless the Mount Mary community with capable, soulful leadership for the future.


Stephanie Russell and Mary Jo Layden
Search Committee Co-Chairs

Mount Mary Search Prayer

Holy Spirit, Spirit of Love, Spirit of Wisdom,
Fill our minds and hearts with discerning love
As we search for a new President for Mount Mary University.
In your mercy, give us a president who will carry forward the vision
Of our founding Sisters into this new era of education.
Give us bold vision, united hearts, and open minds,
That we may follow your joyful guidance,
As we choose our new leadership.
We make this prayer through Christ, Our Lord.


Theresa Utschig
Mount Mary University
Campus Minister

Presidential Search Prayer – Monday, Feb. 28, 2022

Dear Mount Mary Community,

We wish to update you on the progress of the search thus far. After reviewing all materials and interviewing the semi-finalists, the Search Committee has narrowed the search to four finalist candidates who will visit the campus in March. Representative groups from the faculty, staff and student body will interview the candidates and provide their individual feedback to the Search Committee. Candidates will also meet with campus leaders, trustees, and sisters who serve on the Corporate Board.

Please pray with and for everyone involved at this stage of the process, as we move closer to the selection of Mount Mary’s 13th President. May God guide our campus community.


Stephanie Russell and Mary Jo Layden
Search Committee Co-Chairs

Mount Mary Search Prayer

God of our rooted past and God of our blooming future, with all humility and appreciation of your sovereign grace, we as the Mount Mary community seek Your wisdom to enlighten us and Your light to guide us in this season of transition for our University.

We as leaders of today, are fueled by the leaders before us as we journey with leaders for our tomorrow. All days are in your hands and we are steadfast in assurance that in Your hands this search will be successful towards growing our campus, our students our community while giving You glory.

Please keep us united with each other and most importantly aligned with You. You are the God of immeasurably more and we are grateful to be recipients of your blessings.

We vow to be sound stewards of this process and the fruit it yields and commit our days and determinations to You.

Grant us unusual favor and uncommon connections. Thank You in advance for hearing our prayers and leaning in on our journey.


Erickajoy Daniels
Mount Mary University Trustee
Advocate Aurora SVP, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer

Presidential Search Prayer – Monday, Feb. 21, 2022

Dear Mount Mary Community,

The strength and vibrancy of the Mount Mary Community has been evident to our search consultants, our applicants and our semi-finalist pool. We are so grateful for the many individuals who have shared their time and expertise to create the foundation for this next phase of the search.

As we begin to actively interview candidates we ask for your support again - this time in prayer. At this crucial time in the presidential search we would like to offer a prayer for the success of the search written by Mount Mary community members each Monday for use throughout the week.

On behalf of the Search Committee, please pray with us, and for us, as we have the important discussions and make the decisions that will guide the final choice of Mount Mary’s 13th President.


Stephanie Russell and Mary Jo Layden
Search Committee Co-Chairs

A Prayer of Solidarity for our Mount Mary Presidential Search

Loving Triune God, we give you thanks and praise for the abundant graces you bestow upon us as we serve you in the spirit and charism of the School Sisters of Notre Dame.

We ask you to bless our sisters and brothers in SSND ministries who are in the process of hiring and welcoming new leaders in mission. Reveal to them qualified candidates who are open to and will support our SSND ministry ideals. Help them to select individuals who will lead with humility and courage and in ways that will help others reach their potential.

May those entrusted with the leadership of the selection process be guided by a spirit of collaboration and wisdom; may their dialogue be open and their discernment clear.

God of all Wisdom, bless and strengthen all who join in the mission of the School Sisters of Notre Dame so that all might continue the mission of Jesus, that all be one.

Through Mary, our Mother, may we all continue to serve the Triune God all our lives with joy, to obey God and love God above all.


By Joan Andert, SSND

Director of SSND Ministries

SEARCH UPDATE #5: February 15, 2022

Dear Members of the Mount Mary Community,

It continues to be our privilege, and the privilege of the Presidential Search Committee, to seek a President who will ground themselves in Mount Mary's mission and lead us confidently into the future. We rely daily on your prayers and support in this common work.

The search has been going well. Thirty candidates for the presidency submitted their materials and letters of application before our Feb. 2 deadline for full consideration, though it is possible that a few others may do so in the coming weeks. From these applicants, nine very promising semi-finalists have been selected, and we will conduct interviews with each of them on Thursday and Friday, Feb. 17-18. We hope to arrive at a finalist pool of two to four candidates by next week.

Leadership searches in higher education always reflect a balance, with respect to institutional participation and candidate confidentiality. Many priorities are at work, as finalists engage with our Mount Mary community.

On one hand, higher education's orientation toward shared governance, transparency, and a relatively flat organizational structure leads some schools to choose a wholly open process, in which everyone can participate. Giving candidates a broad view of the perspectives of the university community helps them understand the culture and concerns of many constituencies. It also provides a firsthand view of finalists for faculty, staff, and students. In state institutions this kind of process may even be mandated.

On the other hand, search committees are all too aware that the candidates they are pursuing – and especially those who are most in demand – are frequently reticent to put their names in a pool publicly, lest their candidacy be known at their home institution. This phenomenon has been exacerbated by the fact that Covid-19 has made the higher education leadership marketplace even more competitive. Knowledge about the candidate's interest in the search can harm relationships with donors, faculty, and community partners at the home school, and can even put a candidate's job at risk. The "at-will" nature of most administrative positions in higher education does not protect candidates from this sort of dismissal, and some will simply not apply for a presidency if their involvement will be known beyond the scope of the search committee and board, at any point in the process. The desire to recruit high-quality candidates has led some universities to use a wholly closed (i.e., interviewed only by the Board of Trustees) process for presidential search and selection.

Each of these approaches brings both benefits and risks. It has been important, in mapping an approach that fits Mount Mary's mission and culture, to keep key values in mind, namely that the search should:

  • be fair, welcoming, and inclusive for all applicants;
  • give rise to a capable and robust pool of candidates for the presidency;
  • be known and embraced by the constituencies of the Mount Mary community – faculty, staff, students, alumnae, SSNDs, and board; and
  • conclude with the selection of a President who will serve the university exceptionally well and whose leadership will reflect the SSND mission that animates our work.

Keeping these values at the forefront, we have created a hybrid search process that does not choose one extreme or the other, but incorporates the best of each. It includes the essential voices of students, faculty, and staff who are respected on campus and whose input will be central to the selection process, and it safeguards the confidentiality of talented candidates who would not apply through a completely open process (i.e., all interviewers sign an ethics agreement that assures confidentiality).

How will it look? Simply put, presidential finalists will be interviewed by representatives from the faculty, staff, students, and alumnae; presidential cabinet members; trustees; and Corporate Board members. Faculty and staff interviewers have been nominated through the coordination of the Faculty Assembly and Staff Assembly. A diverse group of students will constitute a student interview team, as well. They will be selected from current student leaders and recommendations from Student Affairs. Included in the finalists’ visits is a tour of the Mount Mary campus.

We believe that this hybrid approach speaks to the spirit and practice of shared governance, and that it will yield finalists who can engage our campus in a free and focused way. The Search Committee is immensely grateful to the faculty and staff partners who have helped to create it, along with all who will participate in interviews.

Below are a few FAQs that may help to complete the picture. As always, we are open to your questions, which can be submitted through the portal on the Presidential Search web page.

Thank you for all that you do to make Mount Mary University a place that our future President will be blessed to lead.


Stephanie Russell and Mary Jo Layden
Search Committee Co-Chairs


  • Will there be separate groups for faculty, staff, and student interviewers who have been nominated/selected? Yes, each group will have its own time in the schedule to interview the finalists.
  • How will interviewers submit their feedback? All interviewers will submit their feedback individually through an online form. We are seeking a wide range of individual input rather than group consensus.
  • How large will the faculty interview team be? Fifteen faculty members will be involved in the faculty interviews, facilitated by Dr. Jason Meyler (chair of the Faculty Assembly) and Drs. Debra Dosemagen and Kari Inda (members of the Search Committee). These three facilitators are not included in the 15 colleagues who will represent the faculty.
  • How large will the staff interview team be? Fifteen staff members will be involved in the staff interviews, facilitated by Dan Vinson (chair of the Staff Assembly) and Liz Saffold (member of the Search Committee). These two facilitators are not included in the 15 colleagues who will represent the staff.
  • Why are we using this model when the last presidential search, five years ago, was completely open? We wish we had the luxury of a completely open search, but the landscape of higher education has shifted a great deal in the last five years. The “great resignation” associated with the Covid-19 pandemic has made presidencies even more competitive positions. We know with certainty that some of our nine semi-finalists would not have applied were this hybrid approach not in place.
  • When will candidates visit the Mount Mary Campus? Candidates will visit during the month of March, based on their availability.
  • When will an announcement on the next President be made? Our hope is to announce the next President in early April, though that timeline is reliant on the immediate next steps of the process.

SEARCH UPDATE #4: February 2, 2022

Dear Mount Mary Community,

Today is the day that applications for the presidency of Mount Mary University are due, in order to receive full consideration by the Search Committee. We are very excited to be at this stage of the search process and to have a strong pool of candidates.

On January 12, the Search Committee participated in anti-bias training led by Trustee Erickajoy Daniels and her colleague, Joelle Espinosa. Also presenting were Sheila Murphy and Greg Duyck, our WittKieffer consultants. The Search Committee is working well together, and is asking thoughtful questions about how to pursue the best possible presidential match for MMU.

Semi-finalist selection will take place in early February, followed by semi-finalist interviews in the forthcoming weeks. In our next search update, we will outline the process for finalist interviews, which are projected to take place in March.

As you know, the most current source of information is the Mount Mary Presidential Search web page, which also includes a portal for your feedback.

We welcome your thoughts and rely on your prayers.

Stephanie Russell and Mary Jo Layden
Search Committee Co-chairs

SEARCH UPDATE #3: January 11, 2022

Dear Members of the Mount Mary University Community,

Welcome back for the Spring semester!

This past fall, the search process for the 13th President of Mount Mary University began by building the foundation to launch the search. A search committee was formed, a search consultant was chosen, our consultants conducted extensive on-campus research and the Institutional and Position Profile was created. The search was formally launched on December 14, 2021.

You have been, and continue to be, an important part of the process. Your input at every stage is key to the success of our search. Please refer to the profile to nominate candidates for the position here. For full consideration, candidates should apply by February 1, 2022. For our part, the Search Committee is now preparing for the upcoming review of applicants and the interview process.

Recognizing that we all bring implicit biases to our decision making, and focusing on our intention to conduct this search mindful of this fact, the Search Committee’s first meeting of 2022 will explore implicit bias and build processes to mitigate these biases in the search. In addition to written materials, such as this article on Promoting Diversity Equity and Inclusion in the Search Process, and professional guidance provided by our WittKieffer consultants, the committee has invited MMU Trustee Erickajoy Daniels to lead a discussion designed to help all of us understand how to recognize and alleviate our biases. The committee will work to build a process for reviewing candidate applications and interviewing candidates that utilizes best practices in maintaining an equal and inclusive environment for all of our applicants and candidates.

As always, please keep the Search Committee in your prayers in the coming months and contact us at with your questions, thoughts or requests for additional DEI reference materials.

Happy New Year!

Stephanie Russell and Mary Jo Layden
Search Committee Co-chairs

SEARCH UPDATE #2: December 14, 2021

Dear Members of the Mount Mary University Community,

Advent peace! We are pleased to inform you that the presidential search continues to move forward and that we have already begun to receive inquiries from potential candidates.

Your participation in this part of the process is essential, and thus we would like to share with you the Presidential Profile that has been posted in various higher education publications and social networks.

If you know of anyone who would be an exceptional president for Mount Mary University, please share this link, which will lead them to the posting, profile and other candidate materials.

We also encourage you to share the link through your LinkedIn page and other social media networks.

Thank you in advance for your collaboration in this stage of the process and for being an advocate for Mount Mary's future.

All God's continued blessings,

Stephanie Russell and Mary Jo Layden
Search Committee Co-chairs

SEARCH UPDATE #1: November 23, 2021

Dear Members of the Mount Mary University Community,

As the days of the fall semester wind to a close, we want to thank you for the generous ways in which you are supporting Mount Mary’s search for a new President. In early November, members of the university community met in-person and virtually with our search consultants from WittKieffer, Sheila Murphy and Greg Duyck. Still others offered their written comments online. Your insights have given Greg and Sheila a nuanced understanding of Mount Mary’s culture, history, and future. As a result, they are now completing the final draft of a presidential profile which will be reviewed by the Search Committee and shared with potential candidates in December and January.

As you may know, university presidential searches must be undertaken with great care and attentiveness. On one hand, it is important to allow for as much transparency and participation as possible, so that an incoming President can begin with the strong support of the campus community. Conversely, the highest-quality candidates are typically persons who are in key leadership positions at other institutions of higher education, and they generally do not want to jeopardize their current work by signaling interest in another university. Breaches in confidentiality are, in fact, among the major reasons that candidates withdraw from presidential searches. Thus, the extremes of a completely open or closed search bring both benefits and risks for the institution.

Mount Mary’s search is a hybrid of these models. The Search Committee will be the point of contact for candidates until they visit the campus in March. At that time, several representative groups from the Faculty, Staff, Student Body and Alumnae/i will meet with the finalists and offer feedback to the Board of Trustees. That feedback, along with the Search Committee’s review of candidate strengths and challenges, will assist the Board in selecting the next President.

We will communicate additional details on each stage of the search as it unfolds, but want to share with you now the overall timeline:

Early January

  • Search Committee preparation: 
    • Anti-bias Training
    • Effective Assessment of Academic Curricula Vitae                          

Early February

  • Search Committee review of applications and selection of approximately eight semifinalists    


  • Search Committee interviews of semifinalists (Virtual) and selection of finalists


  • Finalist interviews and campus visits  

Late March

  • Search Committee provides summaries of candidate strengths and challenges to the Corporate Board and Board of Trustees
  • Recommendation by the Corporate Board and selection of the President by the Board of Trustees


  • Announcement of the incoming President

Sister Joan Andert, SSND has written a prayer for the search process, which is posted on the Presidential Search web page. Your prayerful support, recommendations, and candidate nominations are all welcome contributions to bringing the presidential search to a successful conclusion. Thank you for your collegiality and for the spirit of hope that you are bringing to our shared work.

Every blessing,

Stephanie Russell and Mary Jo Layden
Search Committee Co-chairs