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Presidential Search

Randolph College in Lynchburg, Virginia, seeks a new president whose energetic, creative, and visionary leadership will strengthen and expand the College’s enrollment and resources, enhance the College’s visibility and recognition, and lead Randolph in fulfilling its strategic goals.

Welcome to Randolph

Our Eleventh President

Throughout its history, Randolph has challenged its students to develop their intellectual and creative talents, to pursue educational opportunities within the College community and beyond, and to embrace honorable living. Randolph’s next president will work collaboratively with all who care about the College to fulfill that mission.

The search committee and search firm is actively seeking input and nominations from the Randolph College community.

Screening of complete applications will begin immediately and continue until the completion of the search process.

Randolph College Presidential Position Profile (PDF)

Interested parties may submit inquiries, nominations, referrals, and applications here. Electronic submission of materials is required.

The Randolph community values and supports diversity and an inclusive environment. We are particularly interested in hiring candidates who will enrich the diversity of our campus.  Randolph College is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

About the Search

July 19, 2021

Dear Presidential Search Committee:

Thank you for agreeing to serve on the Presidential Search Committee. I am grateful to each of you for your willingness to undertake this important service to Randolph.

As you know, we will be assisted in the search by Isaacson, Miller. Ms. Ponneh Varho will be our consultant and will work closely with us throughout the search.

The following charge outlines expectations of the Committee with respect to the search process:

The Randolph College Presidential Search Committee is charged to conduct, with the support and advice of our consultant, a national search that will identify a broad and diverse pool of qualified candidates that the committee will assess, evaluate, and narrow down.

The Committee will develop a timeline for the search that will permit the selection of a president by the February 2022 board meeting, or as soon afterwards as possible. Throughout the search process, the co-chairs of the Committee will make periodic reports to the full Board of Trustees about the progress of the search.

After interviewing, due diligence, and appropriate consultation, the Committee will then identify and bring forward to the Board of Trustees the best-qualified candidate for consideration as the next president of Randolph College.

Throughout the process and beyond, the Committee will observe strict confidentiality concerning the names of and all information about the candidates, and all discussions within the Committee.

Thank you again for this important service to the Randolph College and your assistance in finding the outstanding candidate to become the College’s 11th President.


Hylan T. Hubbard III
Randolph College Board of Trustees


  • Karen Campbell, trustee
  • Betsy Crighton, trustee

Committee members:


  • Sha-Ron Bass, Head Davenport Leader
  • Jaelyn Evans, Student Government President


  • Keesha Burke Henderson, Chief Diversity Officer
  • Farah Marks, Vice President of Institutional Advancement
  • Steve Willis, Special Assistant to the President and Secretary of the Board of Trustees, ex officio


  • Emily Chua, Music Department
  • Peggy Schimmoeller, Education Department
  • Sarah Sojka, Physics & Environmental Studies Departments, Chair of Faculty Representative Committee


  • Maggi Beckstoffer, trustee, Richmond, VA
  • Carol Haley, trustee, NYC
  • Lorena Kern, trustee, NYC
  • Genia Welburn, trustee, Manassas, VA
  • Charlie White, trustee, Lynchburg, VA

The College has hired Isaacson, Miller (IM), a national executive search firm, to assist the Presidential Search Commitee and the Board of Trustees in this search.

The Firm

Isaacson, Miller is a national executive search firm devoted to recruiting exceptional leaders for mission-driven organizations. The firm has grown steadily, and today, Isaacson, Miller stands alone as a large, national, retained search firm dedicated to the full range of public and civic missions. They have active practices in higher education, healthcare, conservation and environment, advocacy, arts and culture, foundations, preK-12 education and education improvement, human services, social justice, and other endeavors that advance the public good.

Many of its clients and past candidates become part of an extended network and share the goal of strengthening civic infrastructure. They see their own missions reflected in the work of the firm and choose to assist us, generously, in our quest for the finest talent in their fields. In 2019 83% of their searches were for returning clients.

IM believes that civic organizations are essential to a strong civil society, a vigorous democracy, and to a free market economy. Civic institutions educate us all. They encourage the marketplace of ideas through research, teaching, and advocacy. They inspire innovation, and, through foundations and philanthropy, they arouse the charitable endeavors of private citizens. The civic sector serves as the guardian of our economic and societal strength. Isaacson, Miller has made its success their business.


IM conducts a simple but disciplined process built around a schedule, with each deliverable and decision point planned with the client at the search launch.

Their practice consists of three essential steps:

Definition: Listening sessions with leadership, staff, and key decision makers to gather input and gain a shared understanding of the search that they translate into a thorough position profile.

Candidate Discovery: A meticulous networking process to systematically examine all appropriate candidates. They use their proprietary database and extensive outreach to ensure a diverse group of candidates is identified and recruited.

Selection: A clearly facilitated process for evaluating a long list of potential candidates and narrowing the field that includes interviews with IM, interviews with you, and extensive reference checking and due diligence.

Commitment to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

IM holds a fundamental institutional commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI). They have become well-known for success in recruiting candidates from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds. They have established an extensive network of contacts who share their commitment to diversity, and call and build upon this network in every search.

They work with clients to uphold legal protections and to resist explicit as well as implicit biases that lead to discriminatory hiring practices. In 2020, 55% of their placements were women and 38% were people of color.

As a firm, IM strives internally to be a diverse and welcoming community of colleagues where everyone can learn, thrive, and be empowered to contribute to a vital and powerful civic sector.

Randolph Team

Ponneh Varho

Washington, DC
B.A., University of Virginia; J.D., University of Virginia; Ed.M., Harvard University

Ponneh is a partner at Isaacson, Miller. Since joining the firm in 2007, Ponneh has built a strong higher education practice, having completed more than 100 searches for presidents, provosts, deans, and a broad range of functional leaders. She builds strong client affinity relationships and frequently works with her presidential placements to build out their leadership teams. Ponneh has conducted presidential searches for institutions including Bowdoin College, Spelman College, Vassar College, Wellesley College, and her alma mater the University of Virginia.

Her service as a student trustee and member of the honor counsel at UVA helps to inform the perspective Ponneh brings to her clients in higher education. Earlier in her career, Ponneh practiced law for five years. That experience provided the underpinning of her focus on client service—a hallmark of her work approach. She has long been a champion of diversity and inclusion, and in addition to her client work in this area, Ponneh was a co-chair of Isaacson, Miller’s diversity and inclusion initiative. Ponneh continues to refine her craft through a commitment to excellence and continuous learning, bringing a level of intellectual rigor that allows her search engagements to develop into true partnerships. She enjoys sharing her insights with emerging leaders and has participated in a number of speaking engagements on preparing for presidencies in higher education.

Claire Hennessey

Senior Associate
Washington, DC
B.A., Sewanee: The University of the South; M.B.A., Goizueta Business School, Emory University

Claire Hennessey joined Isaacson, Miller as an Associate in 2019. Prior to joining the firm, Claire served as the Program Director for Strategic Planning in the Office of the Provost at Emory University. In this role, she directed the implementation of the University’s strategic framework, working with faculty, staff, and administrators across the enterprise. Previously, Claire also served as Director of Foundation Relations at Emory University, facilitating connections between private foundations and faculty, and as a Senior Campaign Manager at Coxe Curry & Associates.

June 1, 2021 – President Bradley W. Bateman announces his intention to retire at the end of the 2021-2022 academic year.

July 19, 2021 – Chair of the Board of Trustees Hylan T. Hubbard III announces the hiring of Isaacson Miller (IM) as search consultant.

August 12, 2021 – IM invites alumnae and alumni to participate in a survey to collect input on the search.

August 18-19, 2021 – IM holds open forums via Zoom with faculty and staff to collect input on the search.

August 25-27, 2021 – IM conducts additional interviews and listening sessions, and tours campus and Lynchburg.

September 24, 2021 – Presidential search website is launched.

September 27, 2021 – Search committee co-chairs Betsy Crighton ’67 and Karen Campbell ’77 send e-mail  to Randolph community announcing the public phase of the search.

October 27, 2021 – Search committee co-chairs Betsy Crighton ’67 and Karen Campbell ’77 send e-mail updating Randolph community on the progress of the search.

About Randolph College

Since its founding in 1891 as Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, Randolph College has offered students a rigorous education in the liberal arts and sciences. In keeping with the College motto, vita abundantior, integrated living and learning provide a foundation for meaningful lives characterized by a lifelong joy in learning.

Randolph College encourages each student to set and meet high personal goals. Campus life is grounded in the Honor System, which fosters individual integrity and mutual trust. As students from diverse backgrounds study and live together, they are expected to respect the rights and dignity of others, to be open to cultural differences, and to exercise personal and social responsibility. They are encouraged to develop confidence and to participate fully in a community in which women and men work together and treat one another as equals.

Through excellence in teaching, advising, and scholarship, the faculty provides the challenges requisite to the intellectual development of each student. With faculty support, the undergraduate students design individualized and coherent programs of study that combine academic and co-curricular components. While each student’s educational plan is unique, all programs of study foster these capacities: to think critically; to write and speak with clarity and accuracy; to employ quantitative reasoning; to use technology effectively and ethically; to cultivate an aesthetic sensibility; to understand key dimensions of the heritage of more than one society; to approach problems with creativity and imagination; to work both independently and collaboratively; and to recognize the power and limitations of knowledge. The graduate students pursue more narrowly focused programs of rigorous study designed to add specialized knowledge to their undergraduate education. The graduate programs are directed by faculty members who are especially knowledgeable about the professional standards to be met by those who earn advanced degrees.

Through their experiences at Randolph College, students are challenged to think ambitiously and to prepare thoughtfully for their futures in a diverse society and an increasingly complex world that offers them expanding opportunities for leadership, responsibility, and service.

Randolph College is committed to excellence in liberal education. The College believes that today the breadth and depth of the liberal arts and sciences program bear as directly as ever on the needs of its students, whose status as individuals in a changing society requires that they be competent, flexible, and strong. Within the traditional framework of liberal studies, the College offers students from around the globe a challenging, enlightened, supportive, and inspiring environment in which to gain superior knowledge, pursue personal growth, and prepare for their futures. This enduring commitment to educating the whole student–affirming each student’s significance as an individual and their role as part of a larger community, is made possible by the small size of the College and is further demonstrated by its support of the student’s growth in personal integrity and in ethical and social responsibility. Concern for the individual fosters the atmosphere of caring valued so highly by the Randolph College community. This is a community where students, faculty, and administrators share a common purpose: the pursuit of excellence in educating individuals who will be leaders in the global society of the 21st century.

Four characteristics of the College embody its purpose. The first characteristic of Randolph College is its grounding in the liberal arts and sciences. To provide a background for a major field of study and a solid foundation for a profession or career, today’s men and women need broad exposure to the substance and methods of many disciplines. Ideally, such breadth of exposure prepares them to think logically and inspires them to strive for open-mindedness and compassionate understanding. Independent judgment and analytical thinking are among Randolph College’s goals, for the College believes that the best preparation for a career is not simply specific training, but also educating the whole person to be wise, independent, and responsible. Another primary function of a broad education is to liberate the student from prejudice, provincialism, and ignorance. Randolph College recognizes that full learning occurs best in a multiracial, multiethnic environment. To enable students to be responsible citizens, the College strives to fashion academic programs that will ensure multicultural awareness, and seeks to attract students, faculty, and staff of varied racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Second, Randolph College is a small college. It has not been seduced by the notion that bigger is better or that increases in quantity mean increases in quality. Large enough to sustain the major ingredients of a liberal arts and sciences program and small enough to know and attend to individual students, the College aims to foster the kind of community that combats the anonymity pervading much of modern society. The third characteristic of Randolph College is its residential nature. Because students, faculty, and staff live and work closely together, it is a caring community. The experience of sisterhood/brotherhood and the emphasis on community, particularly the trust that is part of the Honor Code, mean that life at Randolph College involves a moral commitment through which students prepare for leading roles in establishing community beyond the red brick wall that borders the campus. Last, and most important, Randolph College offers an education fully and completely directed toward students. In a time of increasing opportunities for students, it is essential that the undergraduate years help the student build confidence, establish identity, and explore opportunities for careers and for service to the society that awaits them.

In 1891, on 20 acres of rough, hilly, land in what was then Campbell County, William Waugh Smith built the foundation for his vision—a dream that was years in the making. As early as 1883 and 1885, the then-president of Randolph-Macon College (R-MC) in Ashland, Virginia, W.W. Bennett, with the support of faculty (which included William Waugh Smith) approached the college’s Board of Trustees in an attempt to open some educational opportunities there to women. Both efforts failed. Years later, when Smith himself was president, he once again set out to convince the board. While the board members remained steadfast against opening R-MC to women, they did agree to the idea of a separate college for women.

Smith set out to find a place in Virginia open to such a novel concept—providing a rigorous academic program to women. George M. Jones, a stockholder of the Rivermont Land Company, suggested Lynchburg, a wealthy, growing city near the Blue Ridge mountains. Passionate and determined, Smith convinced the company to donate the 20-acre site, as well as $40,000 in money and $60,000 in stocks, as long as Smith was able to raise $100,000 for the endowment in 90 days. He secured $106,000 in just 34 days.

On Sept. 14, 1893, with 11 other faculty members by his side, Smith opened the doors of the partially finished building (eventually called Smith Hall and later Main Hall) to the first class of 36 pioneering women.

Under William Waugh Smith’s leadership, Randolph-Macon Woman’s College quickly became known nationally for its academic rigor and began to attract women from across the nation. Smith tirelessly championed the school until his death in 1912. In 1902, R-MWC was the first women’s college to be admitted to the Association of Colleges and Preparatory Schools of the Southern States. In 1911, the College’s first art professor, Louise Jordan Smith, established the Annual Exhibition of Contemporary Art, and in 1914, the College’s collection of art began with the acquisition of a piece from the Fourth Annual Exhibition. In addition, R-MWC was the first college in the south to have a psychology laboratory, and in 1916, R-MWC was also the first women’s college south of the Potomac to receive a Phi Beta Kappa charter. Pearl S. Buck, a member of the Class of 1914, is the College’s most well-known graduate. The author of The Good Earth, Buck earned both a Pulitzer Prize and a Nobel Prize.

The early and middle 1900s brought expansion and building to the campus as facilities and programs were added. In 1953, R-MWC officially separated from the Randolph-Macon Board of Trustees, and held its first meeting on March 27. The College benefited from the Cold War when the National Gallery asked to build a secret storage facility on campus for the nation’s masterpieces in the case of nuclear war. Then known as the Art Gallery, the facility served as a gallery for the College’s art collection beginning in 1953.  (In 1983, the Art Gallery was renamed the Maier Museum of Art.)

In 1961, R-MWC became the first college in Lynchburg to allow students of all races to enroll. During this time, the College also established its flagship study abroad program in Reading, England, and several other buildings were completed.

Randolph’s innovative American Culture Program was launched in the 1990s. The early 2000s brought the creation of the popular Summer Research program, the reinstatement of the biennial Greek Play tradition (originally produced in 1909), and the new environmental studies program.

In 2004, the College’s Board of Trustees began a multi-year strategic planning process. Virginia Hill Worden ’69 stepped in as interim president after the retirement of Kathleen Gill Bowman. After years of debate, research, and deliberation, the College’s Board of Trustees addressed enrollment issues by making the decision in September 2006 to adopt coeducation and change the College name. R-MWC officially became Randolph College on July 1, 2007, and John E. Klein began his presidency in August of that year, just days before the College welcomed its first fully coed class. After several years of transition, the College began to see significant improvement in all areas, including alumnae engagement. During Klein’s leadership, alumnae financial support allowed Randolph to make significant improvements to campus. The $6 million Student Center renovation and Michels Plaza were completed in 2013.  Also, in that year, the Board of Trustees announced the appointment of Bradley W. Bateman as president. He began his tenure in July 2013 after the retirement of Klein. During Bateman’s tenure, the College continued its forward momentum.

In 2014, the College began a partnership with the National Gallery, London, as part of the sale of the “Men of the Docks” painting by George Bellows. The partnership is the only one of its kind between a U.S. educational institution and the National Gallery, London and includes, among other benefits, lectures on Randolph’s campus by high-level staff from the Gallery as well a special internship program in London for Randolph students.

New graduate programs have also been added in recent years. In addition to the Masters of Arts in Teaching, Randolph now offers a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and a Master of Arts in Coaching and Sport Leadership. The College will begin its new TAKE2 curriculum model in the fall of 2021. This unique, innovative program, in which students take two classes every seven weeks, with no classes on Wednesdays, is designed to better meet the needs of today’s students.

Improvements to campus have continued with the addition of the Grosvenor Apartments and renovations to Cheatham Dining Hall and Wright Hall. A major infrastructure project was completed in recent years, along with various other improvements to other areas of campus, including Main Hall Lobby, Bell Hall, the tennis courts, WildCat Stadium turf, and more. In 2021, the College completed its multi-year major renovation of and addition to the athletic center, which was renamed the Michels Athletic Center (MAC). The enhanced facility features a renovated gymnasium and pool, new weight room, team rooms, and more. Plans and fundraising also continue for renovation and expansion of the Martin Science Building.

Today, the campus has been revitalized, the student body is engaged, and faculty members remain devoted to providing students an individualized, liberal arts education. Building on a strong 128-year heritage of rigor and academic challenge in a close-knit community, Randolph College continues to prepare students for Vita abundantior, the life more abundant.

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