Presidential Selection

Presidential Selection Committee

presidentialselection@luther.edu

President Jenifer K. Ward will be stepping down from her role on June 30, 2025. We are pleased to update you on the process of selecting the 12th President of Luther College.

Presidential Selection Committee Members

  • Shannon Duval ’95, Chair of the Presidential Selection Committee
  • Sandee Joppa ’87, Vice Chair of the Presidential Selection Committee
  • Jaraad Ahmed ’25, Outgoing President, Student Senate
  • Matt Beatty ’03, Director of Admissions
  • Pete Espinosa ’81, Regent
  • Mark Larson ’78, MD, Regent
  • Andrew Last ’97, Associate Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities
  • Bishop Felix Malpica ’09, Regent
  • Brad Miller ’86, Regent and Professor Emeritus
  • Dave Mitchell, Associate Professor of Mathematics and Head Wrestling Coach
  • Britt Rhodes ’96, Professor of Social Work; Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work Department Head
  • Leah Vriesman ’88, Regent
  • Rachel Vsetecka ’09, Director of Stewardship and Special Events

Presidential Selection Updates

To:      Luther College Community/Stakeholders
From: Shannon Duval, Chair, Presidential Selection Committee; Sandee Joppa, Vice Chair, Presidential Selection Committee
Re:     Update on Presidential Selection Process

Greetings, Luther Community!

We hope this finds you doing well and that you had a restful Fourth of July holiday weekend! 

Today, we wanted to share two updates from the Presidential Selection process:

  • We had the kick-off meeting of the Presidential Selection Committee on June 27, 2024. In addition to one hundred percent participation from our committee, the group was introduced to our WittKieffer search consultants, Amy Crutchfield and Melody Rose. The committee was onboarded and reviewed an initial timeline and next steps for the process. The first step in the process includes a visit to campus for our search consultants this week as they conduct listening sessions with selected participants.
  • To ensure the broadest reach for all stakeholders who have an interest in Luther College to share feedback on the attributes and skill sets needed in our next leader, an online survey is available now through July 15. Responses will be sent to WittKieffer who will aggregate and summarize the information. All responses are anonymous. The information gathered from the online survey, as well as from the listening sessions conducted by WittKieffer, will inform the content of the presidential prospectus that describes Luther College, the leadership profile, and agenda for our next president.

Thank you for your continued support of this process. We are grateful to Luther stakeholders for their vital interest in the future of Luther College, and look forward to sharing continued updates on the selection committee’s progress.

As we announced in our first communication, work will continue throughout the summer on the process to identify and call the next President of Luther College. We completed a robust assessment of the external environment, sought input from a variety of stakeholders, interviewed potential search consultants/firms, and defined the structure of the Presidential Selection Committee.  

We are pleased to announce that the Board of Regents has retained WittKieffer, a premier executive search firm with significant experience in identifying and placing presidents across the college and university spectrum, including liberal arts colleges similar to Luther College. The WittKieffer team will be led by Amy Crutchfield Nieves, senior partner, and Melody Rose, principal, who will facilitate our process and assist the Presidential Selection Committee to develop and make its recommendation to the Luther College Board of Regents.

Amy and Melody will visit Luther on July 9-10 to meet with representatives from a variety of campus groups, as well as representatives of the Decorah community. These conversations are designed to listen and understand the variety of thoughts and perspectives on the future needs of Luther College, as well as the skill sets and personal attributes which will be important for our next president. In addition to these on-campus discussions, additional conversations will be held via Zoom to provide flexibility and encourage participation.    

To help ensure the broadest reach for alumni and all who have an interest in the future of Luther College, an online survey will be available soon. In our next update, we will provide information on how to access this survey and the date by which the survey must be completed.

With the information gathered from these campus discussions and online survey, WittKieffer, in collaboration with the Presidential Selection Committee, will prepare a presidential search prospectus that describes Luther College and the leadership profile and agenda for our next president. This prospectus will be distributed to the college community and utilized to garner nominations and expressions of interest from potential candidates. 

We will continue to share updates with you as we enter each subsequent stage of the presidential selection process and will post these updates to the presidential selection website.

Thank you for your continued support and participation in these important exchanges about the future of Luther College. We look forward to hearing your thoughts and perspectives.

Please feel free to contact us via email at presidentialselection@luther.edu with any questions.

Soli Deo Gloria.

Shannon Duval ’95, Board Vice Chair; Chair, Presidential Selection Committee

Sandee Joppa ’87, Regent; Vice Chair, Presidential Selection Committee

Bob Paulson ’78, Board Chair

Greetings to the Luther College community! We hope that this finds you doing well and enjoying the initial stages of your summer.

We are pleased to update you on the next steps in the process of selecting the 12th President of Luther College.

We are grateful for the robust feedback we received from the Luther community in which you nominated your colleagues to serve on the Presidential Selection Committee. Of the 23 faculty and 32 staff who were nominated, we are pleased to announce the following individuals have agreed to serve on the Presidential Selection Committee:

  • Shannon Duval ‘95, Chair of the Presidential Selection Committee
  • Sandee Joppa ’87, Vice-Chair of the Presidential Selection Committee
  • Jaraad Ahmed ’25, Outgoing President, Student Senate
  • Matt Beatty ’03, Director of Admissions
  • Pete Espinosa ’81, Regent
  • Mark Larson ’78, MD, Regent
  • Andrew Last ’97, Associate Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities
  • Bishop Felix Malpica ’09, Regent
  • Brad Miller ’86, Regent and Professor Emeritus
  • Dave Mitchell, Associate Professor of Mathematics and Head Wrestling Coach
  • Britt Rhodes ’96, Professor of Social Work; Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work Department Head
  • Leah Vriesman ’88, Regent
  • Rachel Vsetecka ’09, Director of Stewardship and Special Events

Representatives from the Governance Committee of the Board of Regents have been interviewing higher education executive search firms to help facilitate our process and assist the Presidential Selection Committee in developing and making its recommendation to the Board of Regents. We expect to finalize the choice of a firm in the next week, announce the firm’s selection to campus, and convene the inaugural meeting of the Selection Committee shortly thereafter.

Should you have additional questions regarding next steps in the process, please feel free to contact the committee via presidentialselection@luther.edu.

Thank you for your support of this process. We look forward to partnering as we identify the next leader of Luther College.

Shannon Duval ’95, Board Vice Chair; Chair, Presidential Selection Committee

Sandee Joppa ’87, Regent; Vice Chair, Presidential Selection Committee

As I complete my fifth year as Luther’s president and begin my sixth on July 1, I think back to this time in 1980. In a few short weeks, I would graduate from Hendrix College and move to Vanderbilt University to start my graduate education and to begin my career teaching at the college level. Some 44 years ago, I could never have guessed that I would one day be president at Luther College, or that my life would have been so enriched, challenged, and transformed by encounters with so many generations of students, faculty, staff, parents, donors, alumni, and Trustees or Regents over those decades and at many institutions–bound together by the belief that there was great value in higher education. I am humbled by this gift.

We are now engaged in and will continue to build readiness for an exciting and ambitious campaign at Luther. As we completed the campaign preparation study this year and the data showed that we were indeed ready to begin a feasibility study, I knew that the timing of a presidential transition would need to be a consideration for this process, and that presidential transitions are best accomplished at the beginning or end of campaigns, but not in the middle. Concurrently, I considered that our strategic framework will be complete in the summer of 2025. These two factors led me to include “succession planning” as an agenda item for my biweekly meetings with our Board of Regents Chair and Vice-Chair in early February. They, in turn, began this conversation with the Governance Committee at the February Board meeting, and over the course of the past few weeks, I have made my decision to retire from Luther College and have notified the full Board of Regents of my decision to step down as your president on June 30, 2025. I have agreed to serve in an advisory capacity for the college to assist in the onboarding of the new president for a period of time as determined by the new president and the Board of Regents.

I am excited to continue leading the process of executing our current strategic framework, while we accelerate our preparations for a campaign. Going forward, Luther will need a new strategic roadmap to build on the current one, and my successor will have a good foundation on which to build. I am heartened by the momentum we are seeing as we bring the campus master plan to life, for the generosity of our alumni and donors, and for the new curricular, co-curricular, and community partnership initiatives coming online. I am confident in Luther’s senior leadership team, and I have seen firsthand how this community can successfully navigate a multitude of challenges, including a global pandemic. But as much as I feel anticipatory nostalgia for the concerts, plays, exhibits, lectures, athletic contests, poster sessions, meals and conversations in Oneota, in Decorah, with our alumni, and–most importantly–celebrations of the accomplishments of our students, faculty, and staff, here is what I know: it is time for Luther, and the intersecting milestones and timelines I mentioned above mean that the time is right for us to begin a thoughtful, intentional, and well-planned transition in leadership.

Our Board Chair and Vice-Chair are following this message with an overview of next steps and a timeline, with a common aim to ensure a seamless leadership transition to my successor. We still have many months ahead to advance our collaborative work, and I am eager to make the absolute most of this time together with the Luther community. For now, thank you, as always, for your commitment to the college we all love. As I said in my inauguration address, Luther is “always becoming” and it continues to be my privilege to serve as the president of this special college.

Soli Deo Gloria,

President Ward

On behalf of the Board of Regents, we want to express our gratitude to President Ward for her exemplary service and for putting the best interests of Luther College front and center through careful succession planning. We appreciate the timing of President Ward’s decision to retire, which allows the Regents to immediately begin the process of identifying her successor in a thoughtful way. The Regents will discuss and determine the process, next steps and timeline to identify and select Luther’s 12th president and will update the college communities following our regularly scheduled meeting in May. We are grateful for President Ward’s leadership throughout her tenure. One of her indelible legacies is her ability to communicate the vision and mission of the college, which has inspired families, friends, and alumni of Luther to generously share their gifts and invest in the college’s future.

— Board of Regents Chair Bob Paulson and Vice-Chair Shannon Duval

Presidential Selection Committee

presidentialselection@luther.edu