Please check this page for occasional updates on the presidential search process. We will post summaries of meetings and any new information that we publish about the position or process.
April 20, 2012, New President Announced
Dordt College Provost Dr. Erik Hoekstra has been named the fourth president of Dordt College. Dr. Hoekstra’s appointment was announced to the campus community today after the Dordt College Board of Trustees endorsed the Presidential Search Committee’s unanimous recommendation.
“Dr. Hoekstra is very passionate about the college and has a deep–hearted commitment to what Dordt is all about,” said Dordt College Board of Trustees Chair Lloyd Vander Kwaak.
Vander Kwaak said the Presidential Search Committee, made of Trustees and college faculty/staff, balanced many factors as it examined candidates. The Board was keenly interested in ensuring that a new president would help Dordt College sustain its strengths in several areas: maintaining a vibrant mission; providing strong leadership; cultivating excellent, mission–oriented faculty members; and overseeing the college’s ongoing financial stability.
“Under Dr. Carl Zylstra’s leadership, Dordt is in a wonderful place now,” Dr. Hoekstra says. “The core of our educational mission will always be to glorify God as a distinctively Christian, operationally excellent college that attracts quality faculty members, eager students, and enthusiastic supporters.”
While a commitment to Dordt’s historical roots and an understanding of current strengths was important, the board was also looking for innovation. Vander Kwaak noted, “Dr. Hoekstra’s track record of leading organizations with a blend of excellence and creativity–in both education and business–made him a compelling choice.”
The Search Committee, aided by a professional search firm, led listening sessions and surveys of the college’s constituency groups, and, from the comments and ideas, a leadership profile emerged.
In a letter to the Board of Trustees unanimously recommending Dr. Hoekstra for president, Search Committee Chair Randy Kroll wrote, “In the final deliberations, the committee concluded that Dr. Hoekstra’s well–developed and deep passion for the college’s vision and mission, his effective and engaging leadership record at the college in both teaching and academic administration, his knowledge of the college’s positions, strengths, and challenges, and his personal faith and mature understanding of spiritual leadership put him in the best position to lead as the fourth president of Dordt College.”
Dr. Hoekstra is excited to take on a new leadership role, and he says that seeing firsthand the challenges, joys, and responsibilities of serving in such a role has helped prepare him for it.
“It is exciting for me to serve at a Christian college that has an equal passion for programs in Agriculture and English,” Dr. Hoekstra said. “It is good that we encourage some students to consider graduate school and that we prepare them well, but it is equally good that we do not put such a calling ‘above’ others for our graduates. We are called to work toward Christ–centered renewal in every sphere of God’s creation.” (See Dr. Hoekstra's faith statement.)
As provost for the past four years, Dr. Hoekstra has overseen the reshaping of the academic structure of the college. In addition, Hoekstra chaired the Enrollment Management Team and worked closely with the advancement office and president on the recent Beyond Jubilee: Vision 2020 Campaign.
In Dr. Hoekstra’s time as provost, programs in nursing, engineering, and agriculture have grown substantially, and new programs in worship arts, construction management, and actuarial science have begun. Dordt athletic programs have grown in size and quality, as have international programs and international student enrollment. Dr. Hoekstra played a key partnership role with Student Services to design and build Kuyper Apartments, an award–winning student residence hall opened in 2010.
Search Committee member and senior engineering major Mark Van Weelden says Hoekstra is both intense and approachable as an administrator. “He’s visible on campus, and he’ll say hi when he sees you in the Commons,” he said. “He has a genuine passion for Dordt’s mission—just being around him calls you to action and brings out the best in you. He loves this community, and along with his leadership skills, that gives us confidence.”
Dr. Hoekstra holds a Bachelor’s Degree in history and philosophy from Trinity Christian College, a Master’s Degree in international management from The Rotterdam School of Management of Erasmus University in the Netherlands, and a Ph.D. in organizational learning and human resource development from Iowa State University. He has served in senior leadership roles in two different organizations in two different states. (See his full CV.)
Dr. Hoekstra is passionate about bringing joy and meaning to places of work, saying that good leadership is “about creating an environment where those who are being led are being served.”
Comparing his experience as a student and board member at other Christian colleges, Hoekstra says Dordt is unique. “The size and the climate of the campus in which we can know each other well is a wonderful expression of Christian community,” Hoekstra says.
Dr. Hoekstra has co–authored several publications on coaching, delegation, servant leadership, and change management, and his professional background includes roles in leadership development, executive coaching, organizational consulting, industrial construction, wholesale distribution and retail management, as well as teaching business courses at Dordt College.
Dr. Hoekstra is married to Dr. Barb Hoekstra, an education professor at Dordt College with a Bachelor’s degree from Trinity, a Master’s from Western Michigan University, and an Ed.D. from the University of South Dakota. Their family is a blend of biological and adopted children and includes: Arie, 16; Max, 15, Karl, 15; and Zoe, 12.
Dr. Erik Hoekstra will succeed Dr. Carl E. Zylstra, the third president of Dordt College. Associated with the Christian Reformed Church, Dordt College welcomes all students who are interested in an academically excellent, Christ–centered education. Dordt College is recognized annually for being one of the best colleges in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report, Forbes.com, the Princeton Review, and Washington Monthly.
April 12, 2012, Presidential announcement set
The Dordt College Board of Trustees plans to announce the new president of Dordt College on Friday, April 20, at 1 p.m. in the Campus Center.
Dordt College Board of Trustees president Lloyd Vander Kwaak will introduce the new president, who then will have an opportunity to talk to the campus community.
The Board of Trustees will meet earlier that morning to consider and approve the recommendation of the Presidential Search Committee, which began its nationwide search for candidates last year after current President Dr. Carl E. Zylstra announced that this would be his final year as president. Zylstra has served as president since 1996.
Members of the media are invited to attend, and there will be a short time for media interviews following the event.
Off-campus community members, constituents, and alumni who wish to learn more about the new president will be able to read more online at www.dordt.edu and on Dordt’s YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter profiles that same afternoon.
January 28, 2012, Progress Report
The Presidential Search Committee met for a full day on campus on Friday, January 20. Prior to this meeting, committee members spent many hours reviewing packets of materials from the candidates, assessing each against an Evaluation Rubric that we designed based on the qualities described in the Presidential Opportunity Profile.
We divided into two review groups, with each member giving their impressions and observations of the assigned candidates. The groups ranked their candidates based on how well they aligned with the qualities described in the Opportunity Profile.
The alignment assessments helped the committee determine which candidates should be moved on to the interview pool. We now have a very qualified pool of candidates, for which we are very thankful.
The next phase of the search process is interviewing candidates. These will take place in February.
The committee wants to thank all candidates who took the time to think, pray, reflect, and prepare their application packets. We were blessed by their efforts and wish those who will not be continuing in the process God’s blessings as they continue to seek God’s will for their lives of service in His kingdom.
The Committee also developed an interview process, including the topics and questions to use in our conversations with candidates.
The Committee began considering how we should introduce the final candidate to the board of trustees and the campus community.
Thank you to all who have expressed your support and prayers for the committee and the search process over the past few months. Your emails are an encouragement to us. We continue to appreciate your ideas and thoughts.
Randy Kroll, Chair of the Search Committee
Dec. 22 progress report
Since the last post (below), the Search Process had moved into a quieter phase as we build a candidate pool. Many potential candidates have been contacted via letter and phone to encourage their participation in the process. Others have contacted us to express their interest. Our search consultants, Dr. Tommy Thomas and Laura Coverstone, have spent many hours on the phone, connecting with potential candidates, and the conversations have generated much interest.
During my conversations with potential candidates, I have been impressed with the high level of respect they have for Dordt College. Many had encouraging words about the important place Dordt College has in the Reformed community and expressed admiration for the college and its leadership.
The Search Committee met on campus on Friday, December 9, to begin the process of evaluating declared candidates. The committee extensively reviewed information from four candidates to determine whether the candidate’s gifts and experiences align with the desired qualities described in the Presidential Opportunity Profile. We are excited about the quality of the candidates reviewed during this meeting.
Based on our conversations and correspondence, we fully expect to receive additional packages in the next few weeks. These submissions will be subject to the Committee’s review when we get together again in January.
The Committee expects to move into the interview phase in early February. We are on track to propose a candidate to the Board of Trustees at its meeting in late April. The process continues, and we seek your prayers as we continue to discern God’s good and perfect will for Dordt College.
Randy Kroll, Search Committee Chair
Nov. 9 progress report
Since our last update (below), the committee has been busy writing the Presidential Opportunity Profile (PDF). This is an important document, so we took great care drafting it. I want to publicly thank committee members Dr. Leah Zuidema, Dr. Karen DeMol, and Sue Droog for leading this process. While they and advancement staff put a significant amount of time into creating the document, it is owned by the whole committee.
The online Presidential Opportunity Profile will allow potential candidates to determine whether their gifts and interests match what the college is looking for in its next president. It will help them shape their response and application materials.
With the posting of this document, we have completed a significant phase of the search process. We have moved from listening and information-gathering to building a candidate pool. The position is currently being advertised in publications such as The Banner, Christian Renewal, Christianity Today, and some academic publications.
The committee met with Ed Poff of SIMA International, our consulting firm, on October 21. After analyzing the information received from one-on-one interviews, listening sessions, and survey responses, Poff recommended some Critical Leadership Benchmarks by which to assess the candidates. After an extensive discussion, the committee adopted the benchmarks it will use to assess the responses of the candidates, including their resume or CV, their essays related to the questions in the Opportunity Profile, and a phone conversation. We believe setting these benchmarks will bring consistency to the process. The committee also reviewed the list of nominations obtained through the survey process. We are thankful for a strong list of nominations and for those who took the time to make recommendations to us.
As we move forward, we trust that God will continue to provide guidance during this next phase. Please continue to pray with us that God will touch the hearts and minds of those who are interested in the position, and that He will give wise discernment to those who will evaluate the candidates.
Randy Kroll, Chair of the Search Committee
Sept. 28 progress report
The Search Committee is deeply involved in the information-gathering phase of the presidential search process. This is the phase in which we assess the state of the college and the characteristics we will look for in the future president of Dordt College.
During the past month, the Committee held listening sessions with about 200 participants. These have included faculty members, staff members, students, National Advisory Council members, and Alumni Council members. We have also talked with Christian Reformed Church leaders through visits and communications to Classis meetings of area churches.
For each session, we used four questions to collect advice and input:
• What are the top three attributes/characteristics that the Search Committee should be looking for in the next President of Dordt College?
• If we get the right person as President, what changes will occur under his/her leadership? What will be different about Dordt College after five years?
• If we could follow (shadow) the next President of Dordt College and be keen observers of how s/he spends his/her time and who they spend time with, what would we be observing?
• In your opinion, what are the non-negotiables that the Search Committee should have as they screen candidates?
Although each session had its own unique character, certain consistent themes arose regarding the qualities people want to see in the next leader of Dordt College.
• Effective communicator
• Highly relational
• Not necessarily ordained
In addition to these listening sessions, the Committee has sought advice and input through a standardized survey instrument called the Listening Post© designed by Mr. J. Russell Crabtree, who works as a partner with our search consultants. On Friday, September 16, the Search Committee met via a Webinar to evaluate survey results from faculty, staff, students, and board members. Mr. Crabtree walked us through the survey results and gave us his assessments based on his extensive experience.
Below are portions of the Mr. Crabtree’s Executive Summary as presented to the committee.
“81% of students generally agree that, on the whole, they are satisfied (strongly agree, agree, tend to agree) with the school. This is high compared to a peer group of similar schools. 93% of this population also generally agrees (same scale) that the college has been effective in fulfilling its mission over the past 3 to 5 years. In looking to the future, students would like to see additional energy invested in the spiritual development and academic performance of students.”
“A much broader level of agreement is found in the criteria for the next president. The top three are identical for administration, faculty, and board members: (1) ability to build a team and work collaboratively, (2) capacity to provide decisive leadership, and (3) ability to recruit and retain high quality staff. There is also general agreement found in the desired personal characteristics of the president: (1) outgoing and personally engaging with those in the college and community, (2) brings out the best in people, and (3) ability to innovate and take occasional risks for the sake of progress.”
“In conclusion, the respondents to the assessment indicate that Dordt College is a community bearing witness to a high level of satisfaction and energy, as well as a demonstrated ability to achieve its mission. The organizational intelligence suggests that the school has a number of important strengths and assets on which to build. A transformational culture is suggested by all major groups.”
We are continuing to conduct surveys with other stakeholder groups, including alumni, Sioux Center community leaders, and former board members. In the meantime, the committee, with help from the search consultants, has been drafting an Opportunity Profile—a document that will be posted online in October, describing the position and its expectations. This, along with advertisements in strategic published and online resources, will help us develop a candidate pool.
This is an exciting process! We thank each person who has participated through Listening Sessions or the Survey. Your input is important to the Committee, and your participation in these processes reflects the high level of engagement and ownership of a healthy college community.
We continue to covet your prayers for the Committee, the process, and for those who will invest themselves in responding to the Opportunity Profile.
-- Randy Kroll, Chair of the Presidential Search Committee
Summary of the Third Meeting of the Presidential Search Committee
The third meeting of the committee was held Friday, August 19, on campus.
In addition to the committee members, this meeting included Dr. Tommy Thomas and Ed Poff, both principals of SIMA International. Laura Coverstone, a SIMA associate, joined the meeting by phone.
Ed Poff made a presentation on the tool SIMA uses to screen candidates and match their talents to those identified as important by the search committee. SIMA is an acronym for System for Identifying Motivated Abilities. This tool, and the related process, examines a person’s achievements over the course of his/her life. It involves 8-10 hours on the part of a candidate (sharing stories via autobiographical essays and interviews) and interviews and analysis by the SIMA biographer. The patterns of strengths and motivations reveal what is most important to people---what they really want to do in life, what they get excited about, from where they get satisfaction. This process identifies a person’s strength and helps individuals and organizations make the most of those strengths. It has been nationally recognized as a highly effective tool as a selection and leadership identification method.
The committee considered a proposed advertising plan, which includes numerous print and online publications, as well as postings in graduate school and seminary publications.
The survey tool for use by faculty, staff, students, and trustees was given final review and approval for going live yet on Friday, August 19.
Other matters for consideration included the design of the qualifying essay questions for candidates. Four questions were approved for use. Additionally, the proposed plan for connecting with Christian Reformed Church leaders (via Classis meetings) about the search process was reviewed and approved.
A faculty forum was held on August 17, resulting in valuable insights and input to the process, which will be analyzed and contribute to the design of the desired leadership qualities. Future forums will be held with staff members, students, National Advisory Council members, and Alumni Council members.
The committee desires to build a group structure to engage in prayer for this process. We look forward to hearing from “prayer warriors” both on and off campus who would like to help organize such efforts. Please contact Karen De Mol if you are interested in being part of this effort, or Mark Van Weelden if you are a student interested in participating.
Summary of the Second Meeting of the Presidential Search Committee
The Committee met for the second time on Friday, July 29, on campus. This was the first meeting after engaging our search consulting firm, SIMA International. Most of the meeting time was spent talking with Dr. Tommy Thomas, a principal with SIMA and our lead consultant, about the process and timeline related to the search, using the SIMA methodology. This was a solid orientation for all the committee members related to the process, but also to the potential roles of committee members and the search consultant.
Prior to engaging Dr. Thomas in these discussions, the committee reviewed the process of researching and interviewing two search firms, checking and processing references and making the recommendation to the full committee. The process involved 6 members of the committee. The full committee commended the process and, as a body, endorsed the electronic polling conducted on the recommendation between meetings.
The search committee appointed 33 people representing a wide variety of disciplines and offices, including community members, to engage in one-on-one interviews with representatives of the search consulting firm. The firm conducts these interviews to gain input on the future presidential leadership needs of the college and to hear about desired leadership qualities. The resulting input assists in building the desired qualifications as published in the Opportunity Profile, a document which provides candidates with information about the college, its history, its current situation, and its future directions. The interviewees represent faculty members, staff members, trustees, and community members.
Strategies for focus groups were developed by the committee. Focus groups will be scheduled with faculty members, with future consideration given to other groups, such as students, the National Advisory Council, the Alumni Council and Christian Reformed Church leaders. Input from these groups will also be gained via survey.
Wednesday, July 27: Engaging a professional search consultant
After extensive consideration and due diligence, the Presidential Search Committee has named Dr. Tommy Thomas, a managing director with SIMA International, as its choice to assist in finding a candidate for president of Dordt College.
Dr. Thomas specializes in cabinet-level executive searches for nonprofit and faith-based organizations. One of his greatest assets is his extensive network of contacts and connections in Christian higher education. He has served as the search consultant for many higher education institutions with Reformed moorings and traditions, including Northwestern College (Iowa), Reformed Theological Seminary, and Covenant College. He has developed a long list of contacts in the Reformed community.
The search committee interviewed two search consulting firms to learn how each firm could help the work of the committee. We believe a consulting firm will help us objectively assess the college’s leadership needs. SIMA has well-tested candidate assessment tools to screen candidates and to match the qualities of identified candidates with the college's desired leadership qualities. The firm’s expertise gained from many search processes and its assessment and analysis process gives a higher probability for a successful and healthy match between a candidate and the institution.
Dordt College is searching more broadly this time than it has in past leadership searches; therefore, it is important to have the assistance of a search firm that can canvass a broader Reformed Christian landscape to develop a strong roster of qualified candidates.
In addition, the committee desires to honor the candidate’s investment in the search process with utmost professionalism, objectivity, and confidentially—all hallmarks of a professional search firm. All of the comments we received from the firms' references markedly pointed to these qualities.
We look forward to working in partnership with Dr. Thomas and the SIMA firm throughout the search process. The committee first meets with Dr. Thomas on Friday, July 29.
-- Randy Kroll, chair
Friday, June 17: First meeting of the Presidential Search Committee
This first meeting was a foundation-building meeting. It was important for the committee members to get to know each other, to share their relationship with Dordt College, and to reflect on their hopes, dreams, and expectations for the search process.
After the last Presidential Search process occurred more than 15 years ago, the Board of Trustees memorialized the protocols for future search processes, based on lessons learned. So one of the first activities the Committee undertook was to review these protocols and the related mandate the Board of Trustees has put before us.
The Committee noted that we are in a unique period of time when four colleges with Reformed character are searching for their next leader—Calvin College, Hope College, Covenant College and, of course, Dordt College. The Committee discussed how these parallel searches may affect our work in identifying the next president of DC. This will be an interesting time when new leaders are raised up to carry forth the task of promoting Christian higher education with the unique emphases embedded in each institution’s mission and traditions.
Additionally, the Committee considered the following:
• The proposed timeline for the search process.
• The microsite on the Dordt College webpage and related communication strategies.
• The pros and cons of engaging a search firm to support the process.
• The college’s organizational and missional development. Presentations were made by Dr. Zylstra, as the first “non-founder” president of the college, and an “outside” observer who has had opportunity to view Dordt College from afar and from within as an independent consultant.
As a Committee, we are thankful for a very robust response on the survey, and the many helpful and/or encouraging comments that are returned therewith. As of June 29, we have just over 400 responses.
Steps to take before the next Committee meeting include further consideration related to use of a search firm, beginning to identify specific input we desire from various sectors of Dordt College stakeholders, analysis of valuable input we are receiving from the general survey, and initial drafting of materials for an Opportunity Profile document that we will provide to potential candidates.
The Committee covets the prayer support of all those who are interested in the search process.
-- Randy Kroll, chair
Friday, June 3: Presidential Search Committee named
Friday, June 3: Search timeline published