NMC chooses Illinois firm to lead search for new president

TRAVERSE CITY — The Pauly Group Inc. will lead Northwestern Michigan College's search for a new president.

The company was unanimously chosen by the NMC Board of Trustees at Monday's regular board meeting, with most trustees naming the company as their first or second choice during discussion before the vote.

Pres. Tim Nelson in November announced that he is stepping down from NMC's top post in December 2019. He has been with the college since 2001.

Pauly Group, of Illinois, will charge $52,000 for the search, with another $2,500 per day plus travel expenses for on-campus visits over and above the three outlined in its proposal.

Credit and criminal background services and advertising are included in the fee, though if NMC wants advertising beyond what the company usually does, it will not be included in the fee.

Costs such as travel expenses for candidates are NMC's responsibility.

Pauly Group has been around for 25 years. Its proposal says the company will communicate with college leaders and the search committee at least weekly in addition to the campus visits that will take place during the search.

Trustee Michael Estes said the company was the least expensive, though not by a huge amount. His choice was not based on money, but on Pauly Group's ability to connect with board members during its presentation.

"It did seem as though they were able to spend a lot of time not talking about themselves, but talking about the process that they would lead us through," Estes said.

"That was very comforting," Estes said, especially in light of the fact that because Nelson has been on the job for so many years, board members do not have experience doing a presidential search.

Requests for proposals were put out in early December following Nelson's retirement announcement for a company to conduct the search. The college received eight responses, with the field narrowed to four at the Dec. 17 board meeting. Finalists were interviewed at a Jan. 9 board work session.

Each of the four firms was given about an hour to present a proposal and answer questions. Other finalists that were interviewed are Gold Hill Associates of Mississippi; AGB Search of Washington, D.C.; and Myers McRae Executive Search and Consulting of Georgia, which was interviewed by phone.

Pauly Group was the top choice for Trustee Rachel Johnson.

"They have a very strong focus on getting the process right," Johnson said.

Johnson feels the company would be very engaged with NMC, while at the same time being aware its job is to facilitate a selection — not make the choice. Another plus, she said, is that they do a very thorough vetting of candidates.

She also liked the company's experience, which placed presidents at Petoskey's North Central Michigan College in 2018, Benton Harbor's Lake Michigan College in 2017, and Flint's Mott Community College in 2014.

A search committee will be appointed that includes members of the community. The board will work with Pauly Group to determine the timeline of the search and the next steps, said Diana Fairbanks, NMC's executive director of public relations, marketing and communications.

Monday also was the first meeting for new board officers elected at the study session. Chris Bott is the new chair, Rachel Johnson vice-chair, Michael Estes secretary and Jane McNabb treasurer.