Charter of Expectations - Presidential Search Committee


Each member of the Presidential Search Committee was selected, not only for the constituency he/she represents according to the Policy Respecting the Appointment of a President and the General Guidelines and Principles for Selection of the Presidential Search Committee, but, also for the excellence knowledge, judgement and experience that she/he will bring. Regardless of the constituency, each member’s duty is to consider the best interests of the University as a whole.

Being a member of the Presidential Search Committee (which will recommend the selection of the University of Toronto’s 16th President) entails enormous responsibility and accountability. We are being entrusted individually and collectively to contribute a broad range of skills and attributes which will enable the best outcome to the search – an outcome which is executed smoothly and professionally, and which can be benchmarked as a model for others.

Among the many familiar expectations of each member, 10 particular principles require extra emphasis when one takes stock of the successes and potential pitfalls which have characterized other search experiences both at the University of Toronto and elsewhere.


1. Absolute Confidentiality

Confidentiality is mandatory. Members need to understand fully what this means, and if there is any doubt at any time about what is permissible within the bounds of confidentiality, members must speak with the Chair before acting. All Search Committee business must be kept strictly confidential.

  • External discussion with anyone, at any time, about candidates’ names nor any other aspects of the Search Committee’s deliberations would constitute a breach of confidentiality.

2. Timely External Progress Updates

As a priority, the Search Committee Chair is committed to thorough and appropriate communication with the University and external communities on progress will be a priority.

  • The Chair will be the official and only spokesperson for the Search Committee.

3. Avoiding Commentary in External Settings

In social settings and otherwise, people will be aware that one is a member of this Search Committee, and they will likely have heard of, or will speculate on, the names of potential or actual candidates who might be before the Search Committee for consideration. While listening to external advice and/or recommendations it is critical that members do not provide their own commentary, assessment or reflections.

4. Due Diligence and Reference-Checking

Members are to refrain from unauthorized or informal reference-checking/due diligence, unless they are specifically assigned the task by the Search Committee.

  • Reference-checking and complete and thorough due diligence can and will be planned and executed systematically and professionally at the appropriate time.

5. Value-Added Constructive Interventions

Members will be expected to add value to the Search Committee deliberations through constructive interventions and clarification, while taking care not to exert undue influence and/or dominate proceedings.

6. Early Declaration of Personal Biases and Assumptions

It is normal that as candidates’ names are put forth, members might have their own personal biases and/or assumptions based on their familiarity with the candidates. Early acknowledgement and declaration of such personal biases or assumptions to the Search Committee will be considered both honourable and professional.

7. Full Engagement by each member at all stages

It is proven that the ultimate success of selection committees depends greatly on the degree to which individual members are engaged in each stage of the process. It is critically important that each member be fully engaged in the fair, objective, and comprehensive assessment of each candidate prior to short-listing – as well for those candidates who have been short-listed.

8. Constant Focus on Position Specifications and Role Profile

When assessing candidates throughout the process, members will be expected to focus constantly on the skills, relevant experiences and other key attributes agreed to in the Position Specifications and Role Profile developed from wide consultations.

  • Experience demonstrates that committees responsible for the selection of critical leaders are more successful in deciding on the best candidate when, they first concentrate on/ and agree to the needs of the organization for the next 7-10 years, and second on matching the candidates to those specifications.

9. Role of Search Consultant

During this presidential search process, the search consultant/firm will play the role of advisor and provide support to the Search Committee, but will not diffuse the responsibility and accountability of the Committee members, which is to recommend to the Governing Council the best and most appropriate President.

  • The search consultants will have their own very specific mandate, but will also be subject to this Charter of Expectations.

10. Meeting Attendance

Attendance at all meetings is expected, unless dire circumstances prevent it. Hence, the possibility of missing just one meeting would be the most that would be acceptable or expected.

After the search

Our responsibilities will not end once the President is appointed. Members of the Search Committee – collectively and individually – will play a vital role in ensuring his / her success. Members will be expected to provide direct and indirect support to the new President once he / she assumes office, as well as serve as ambassadors for the appointment both within the University community and beyond.

Approved by the Executive Committee (March 29, 2012)