The Search for a President

The Search for a President
Seeking Nominations
The Board of Trustees invites nominations and applications for the position of President
of SNC Tahoe. Candidates and nominations from both traditional academic and nontraditional backgrounds with demonstrated leadership, operating and growth experience
in academia, private business, or public service will be considered. The trustees seek a
president with the experience, skills and drive to shape the future of this innovative and
progressive institution while exemplifying the character and ethics expected in a highly
visible and trusted college and community leader.
Sierra Nevada College, Nevada’s only private 4-year college, was founded in 1969. The campus is nestled in
20 acres of pristine alpine forest just a few hundred yards from the north shore of Lake Tahoe.
A total of 551 undergraduate and 481 graduate students currently attend SNC Tahoe pursuing degrees in
business, science & technology, humanities & social sciences, fine arts, teacher education and interdisciplinary
studies. Most students attend the main campus at Lake Tahoe, but smaller satellite locations in Las Vegas and
Reno provide classroom facilities for targeted programs specifically serving those communities.
The college maintains its liberal arts college roots and educational values but has evolved into an innovative,
outcome-oriented and entrepreneurial institution providing students with transformational educational
opportunities preparing them to contribute in the real world. SNC Tahoe is recognized as an innovator
in active and experiential learning. The college’s setting and unique community support provide an ideal
laboratory/incubator for innovative and entrepreneurial active learning.
Applications and enrollment at SNC Tahoe have increased slightly over the past few years as most
liberal arts colleges have experienced decreases. In the last two years, the college has been awarded or
recognized as: Greenest College in Nevada; one of the 100 Best U.S. Colleges and Universities by State;
Highest Graduation Rate by State; and 2014/15 Colleges of Distinction.
SNC Tahoe’s location on the north shore of Lake Tahoe is integral to its identity and mission to transform
students as they take an active role in their own education. Students and faculty are largely outdoor
enthusiasts embracing a culture of physical and mental challenge, drawing intellectual and artistic
inspiration from not just their classes but also the amazing natural surroundings. The Tahoe environment is
a natural laboratory for active and experiential learning techniques.
The community of Incline Village is itself a strategic asset for the college. Incline Village (and neighboring
communities on the North Shore) has one of the highest populations of current and retired successful
business executives and entrepreneurs found anywhere. A vibrant population of start-up founders,
inventors, finance experts and Fortune 500 executives elect to live full or part-time on the north shore of
Lake Tahoe. From this dynamic, affluent and talented community, SNC Tahoe draws supporters, donors,
trustees, faculty, guest lecturers and student mentors.
Consistent with it’s setting, SNC Tahoe features environmental science and policy academic programs and
provides sustainability leadership and stewardship through example. The Tahoe Center for Environmental
Sciences (built and operated in partnership with UC Davis) is not only a beautiful and functional academic
building but also an award-winning certified platinum LEED showcase, open to the public.
As the only four-year private college in Nevada, SNC Tahoe enjoys a unique position of visibility and
influence in Nevada’s business and government communities.
Using a “culture of
and a
“culture of
to inspire
excellence and
SNC Tahoe offers 30 undergraduate majors and concentrations organized in five departments (Business,
Fine Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences, Science & Technology and Interdisciplinary Studies). The college’s
Ski Business and Resort Management program is internationally recognized.
Graduate degree programs include Education, Administration, Teaching, Creative Writing and
Interdisciplinary Arts. SNC Tahoe’s MFA in Creative Writing has drawn internationally acclaimed writers and
poets to the campus as “Writers in the Woods” speakers and visiting faculty.
Continuing Education and recertification programs for teachers, central to SNC Tahoe’s original founding,
remain important programs, delivered largely through satellite campuses in Reno and Las Vegas and
also partially online. These programs are in high demand as a result of state continuing education and
recertification requirements.
All academic departments at SNC Tahoe employ active learning and “flipped classroom” techniques to fully
engage students in the learning process. While many institutions claim to embrace active learning, the
college’s faculty and administrators are recognized within the higher education community as leaders in the
implementation of active learning and have been asked to speak at or lead active learning sessions at the
Lilly Conference on Teaching and Learning, the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA)
Venture Well conference and the American Association of Colleges and Universities National Conference. All
faculty embrace the “Open Door Challenge,” where a visitor opening any door can see an example of active
learning within 20 minutes.
Two key SNC Tahoe educational themes embraced across all departments are a “culture of competition” and
a “culture of entrepreneurship” inspiring excellence and innovation. Over 20% of undergraduate students
are competitive student athletes. All students take a core class in entrepreneurship. An amazing 25% of the
undergraduate body entered new business concept or business plan competitions (school, state, or regional)
in 2014/15.
Students are encouraged and enabled to complete their bachelor’s degree within four years. SNC Tahoe
offers traditional freshmen a four-year graduation guarantee. Students transferring with 60 credits receive
a similar two-year graduation guarantee. SNC Tahoe has been recognized for the highest graduation rate of
any four-year institution in the state.
The college is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities and licensed
by the Nevada Commission on Postsecondary Education. The Teacher Education programs are state-approved
through the Nevada State Board of Education.
Students & Student Life
SNC Tahoe attracts students from all over the world, representing 32 countries, but most claim roots in northern
Nevada and northern California. Ranked the #2 “ski college” in the US by Freeskier Magazine, SNC Tahoe is
particularly attractive to young outdoor and winter sports enthusiasts who “come to ski but stay to learn.”
Students who attend the college are serous about their educations. They select SNC Tahoe for small classes
and the active learning environment. With an average class size of 15, students enjoy intense personal
interaction with faculty. Students overwhelmingly report they “came to the right place.”
Undergraduates from out of the area are required to live on campus during their freshman and sophomore
years in one of two residence halls, but most students move to nearby off-campus housing as juniors and seniors.
Twenty to thirty percent of undergraduates participate in intercollegiate athletics at SNC Tahoe. The men’s
and women’s alpine, freeski and snowboard teams routinely dominate USCSA National Championships,
and did so again in 2015. Men’s and women’s lacrosse teams were added in 2013/14, and for 2015/16 SNC
Tahoe will add soccer, cross country and golf teams for men and women. Over 15 student-led clubs allow
students to share interests in everything from rock climbing to finance.
The college, businesses in the surrounding communities and strategic partners provide a wide range of
research, internship and employment opportunities for students and graduates.
The undergraduate male/female ratio is 54/46%. Approximately 90% of students receive some level of needbased or merit-based financial aid.
Undergraduate Male:Female Ratio
46% Female
54% Male
The college employs 39 full-time faculty members in its campus and off-site programs. SNC Tahoe also
engages 107 adjunct instructors, each with industry or academic expertise critical to the subject.
Faculty members embrace a culture of excellence in teaching, as well as the need for innovation and change
in higher education. SNC Tahoe does not offer faculty tenure, allowing administrative flexibility and ensuring
the highest standards of teaching excellence; nonetheless, faculty turnover is low, recent surveys report
morale to be high and close student-faculty relationships are the norm.
The student to full-time faculty ratio is 11:1.
Undergraduate Student:Full-Time Faculty Ratio
SNC Tahoe actively seeks and leverages strategic partnerships with leading academic, business, artistic and
research institutions. For example, Middlebury College and the college jointly offer the summer MiddCORE
entrepreneurial immersion program on the campus. This program attracts students from elite universities
and colleges around the world, engaging both the SNC Tahoe faculty and the local community of successful
entrepreneurs and executives as instructors, mentors and business plan judges.
The partnership with UC Davis is another example. The award-winning Tahoe Environmental Science Center
was jointly constructed and is operated with University of California Davis, which conducts ongoing research
on Lake Tahoe. Other partners include DRI (The Desert Research Institute) with joint research initiatives and Vail
Resorts, with ski resort management education as well as internship/graduate placement initiatives. Vail sends
over 50 industry experts to campus each year as guest speakers in Ski Business and Resort Management classes.
SNC Tahoe has achieved a position of financial stability in recent years, even in an environment that has
caused many other colleges to struggle financially. Unlike older schools with large endowments, the college
is highly reliant on net student tuition to fund operations. For the most recent year of audited financials,
2013/14, the college achieved record operating revenues. The overall endowment increased 9.4% to $4.7M
as of June 30.
$ M
Net Tuition and Fee Revenue
12.5 66%
Private Gifts and Grants
3.6 19%
College Room and Board
1.6 8%
Service, Rental, Investment and Sales
1.3 7%
Total Operating Revenues
19.0 100%
$ M
8.9 53%
Academic Support
1.0 6%
Student Services
2.0 12%
Institutional Support
1.5 9%
Facility Operations
1.2 7%
Debt Service
0.5 3%
Other Instructional Support
1.8 11%
Total Operating Expenses
16.9 100%
During the fiscal year ending June 30, 2014, fundraising for SNC Tahoe totaled $3.6 million. Over the past
several years, the school development mission has transitioned from primarily event-driven fundraising and
heavy reliance on a few large donors to a best-practice approach targeting a broader donor base to support
annual giving, planned giving, alumni drives and foundation and corporate gifts. This transition is still in
progress but has already shown positive results.
Private Gifts & Grants
FY 2012
FY 2013
FY 2014
The $3.7 million total fundraising figure for 2014 notably includes the donation of the 10,000 square foot
Holman Arts & Media Center, adjacent to the main campus.
Accept and Address Challenges in Higher Education
The value of higher education, and more specifically small liberal arts colleges, is under pressure. Potential
students and their parents deserve better answers when they question the value of a liberal arts education.
Meanwhile, the cost to deliver a traditional four-year residential college education rises each year. The need
to provide unique offerings with clear value at a lower delivery cost will influence every tactical and strategic
decision the next president will make.
The next president will view changing expectations in higher education as an opportunity and call to action.
Strategies and innovations including on-line offerings, low residency programs, strategic partnerships with
other institutions and innovative calendaring are all employed in varying degrees at SNC Tahoe today;
the faculty, administration and trustees are open to more of these. Graduate programs and high-demand
continuing education programs must also be considered. But even greater strategy and innovation is
required to offer more differentiated, unique offerings with higher value at lower costs.
Lead and Make a Difference
SNC Tahoe is unique in its flexibility and willingness to adapt to these changes facing higher education. The
college has a culture of innovation and fewer barriers to change than most educational institutions. The
next president will have not only the opportunity to propose strategies to address challenges; he or she
can actually execute significant change. A dynamic, effective leader for the college will have organizational
support to define and implement new unique offerings, strategic partnerships and projects. Change is
possible at SNC Tahoe within time frames that would be impossible at most institutions.
Execute “Smart” Growth in Enrollment, Programs and Facilities
SNC Tahoe has the potential to grow but growth must be deliberate, strategic and targeted. Determining
the optimal enrollment, commensurate with facilities, budgets and educational quality will be a critical
challenge. The college also must balance growth with decisions regarding the right level of merit-based and
need-based financial aid.
Leveraging the college’s unique Lake Tahoe location and association with outdoor recreation and
environmental protection is recognized as an important strategic objective for SNC Tahoe to attract new
students, donors and strategic partners. The next president will look for new and innovative ways to
leverage the location advantage as a potential growth engine.
Growth in programs and facilities is expected to accompany enrollment growth, but must likewise be
targeted, strategic and carefully budgeted.
Increase Fundraising
As a relatively young college, SNC Tahoe operates with a small endowment. Increased annual giving and
growing the endowment are necessary precursors for the next president to drive growth and change.
The next president will excel at identifying donors capable of making transformative gifts and closing gift
commitments. The president will communicate a passionate vision for the college that inspires donors.
He or she will take ownership of fundraising goals, strategies and tactics. Fundraising will dominate a large
portion of the next president’s time and focus.
The next president will aggressively seek to build and strengthen relationships with all constituents to
improve fundraising, including students, alumni, faculty and administration, the community, local and
statewide businesses and foundations.
Manage Tight Operating Budgets with Transparency
For the last two years SNC Tahoe has run with small but positive net operating margins. Without a
transformative gift and/or large endowment, revenues will remain highly dependent on annual enrollment
and net tuition and deliberate cost controls.
The next president will execute operating budgets with little margin for error, and therefore must be
comfortable managing financials at a detailed level. He or she will work closely with the finance team and
foster open, transparent financial communications within the team and up to the Board of Trustees.
Strategic use of SNC assets/facilities throughout the calendar year to maximize revenue and increase
visibility can be further exploited.
Strengthen and Develop Partnerships
Strategic partnerships such as those with UC Davis, Middlebury and Vail Resorts have driven much of SNC
Tahoe’s growth, efficiency gains and improved visibility in recent years.
The next president will have the opportunity to not only strengthen these partnerships but also identify and
develop new ones. Partnering to deliver innovative programs such as MiddCORE or the Brubeck Summer
Jazz Colony, or research partnerships such as those with UC Davis and DRI are strategic to leverage limited
resources, increase visibility and reputation, monetize assets and minimize risks.
Steward the Mission and Reputation
The SNC Tahoe President serves as not only an institutional leader but also a community leader
and spokesperson. He or she will be expected to promote the college’s visibility and reputation by
demonstrating strong leadership and personal integrity. The SNC Tahoe President will actively seek
opportunities to increase awareness of the college and will effectively convey the college’s unique
academic mission, strengths and values to all constituents.
SNC Tahoe seeks an individual with the drive and proven track record of success to create a legacy of
targeted, strategic growth and innovation. Candidates with experience operating and growing academic,
business and public organizations are all encouraged to apply. The next president must be an effective
steward of the college, exemplifying strong workplace and personal ethics and moral character. He or she
must be an effective and enthusiastic spokesperson and fundraiser for the college, willing to embrace and
articulate the unique culture, location and academic mission of transformation.
The ideal candidate for President of SNC Tahoe will demonstrate:
Collaborative leadership style
Entrepreneurial attitude/experience
Experience championing and leading “smart” growth in an organization
Experience building and motivating effective management teams—appreciating the nuances of
leading both faculty and administrative teams
• Capacity for strategic thinking and innovation
• Ability to drive consensus but also be decisive when appropriate
• Ability to build trust and respect across multiple constituencies (students, parents, alumni,
faculty, administration, trustees, community and strategic partners)
• Ability to develop and nurture partnerships with external organizations
• Successful track record of fundraising
• Ability to enthusiastically influence various donor constituencies
• Enthusiasm to convey the SNC Tahoe vision to inspire transformative gifts
Experience operating a complex organization
Experience managing budgets and financials at a detailed level
Appreciation for or experience with marketing functions
Experience managing admissions or sales functions
Strategic planning experience
• Effective and open verbal and written communications
• Ability to listen carefully to a wide range of constituents
• Ability to adjust style to communicate effectively to a wide range of constituents
The highest ethical and moral standards in both professional and personal life
Perseverance, work ethic and drive to build a legacy of success at SNC Tahoe
Intellect, curiosity and open-mindedness
Eagerness and stamina to serve 24/7 as an institutional advocate and spokesperson
Humility and a sense of humor
The Application Process
The SNC Tahoe Search Committee will begin reviewing and evaluating applications as they are
received and will continue to accept and review credentials until a new president is selected. Although
applications will be accepted until a new president is selected, candidates are advised to submit their
materials by May
15, 2015 to ensure fullest consideration.
Dr. Richard A. Wueste of AGB Search is assisting with this search. Nominators and prospective candidates
may contact him at [email protected] or at 540-431-5131.
Applications should be submitted electronically to: [email protected]
Materials must include:
• Letter of interest that responds to the Opportunities & Challenges for the Next President and the
Qualifications & Qualities of the Next President
• Complete CV or resume
• Names and contact information (telephone and e-mail) for five references, none of whom will be
contacted until a later stage of the search or without the formal permission of the candidate
All inquiries and applications will be received and evaluated in confidence.
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