Contentious Times in Higher Education:

The field of higher education, especially in the area of enrollment management, is filled with significant challenges in its current state. When I have spoken with college and university presidents, provosts, and VP's for human resources, a consistent theme runs through all our conversations: integrity, trust, confidentially, mutual respect, and knowing that we will do everything for our educational clients to assist them in any way possible. We are there in support of their needs and to create various alternatives to solving their problems. We are the engine and they are the drivers.

One of the most painful conversations I ever had with a VP for HR occurred last year. It went this way when we first spoke: She said, "I hate every search consultant." The conversation did not have a "positive nature" but I took from our conversation that past search consultants had promised a "bill of goods" that did not materialize in any helpful ways. The fault was always with the consultant, however. It always seemed to be the fault of the consulting firm, never the individual at the institution.

In spite of the challenging conversation, we took on a search for her institution, but it was fully contingent on hiring an excellent candidate for the enrollment position. If we were unable to find an excellent candidate for her institution, we were not going to get paid. I had never done that before but I like challenges and this would be just that.

The problem stemmed from the thought that we were part of the "evil empire" when, in fact, she was never open and sharing with us. She used our good name only to string us along in order to see what we could produce. We found some excellent candidates but none of them met her standards. Interestingly in spite of attracting some very solid candidates, she never thought they were experienced or successful enough to reach her expectation. We finally left this client after 6 months because she had proven to me, that she did not profess the same philosophy of integrity, trust, confidentially, mutual respect, and service. The cornerstone of our business lies with five words: integrity, trust, confidentiality, mutual respect, and service.