Principalship Review and Search Procedures


The purpose of this document is to set out the procedures to be followed when conducting a review of the university’s Principalship or a search for a new Principal of the university. 

Establishment of Review Committee 

1.    The Principal will advise the Chair of the Board of Trustees whether they wish to be considered for reappointment to a second term no later than 18 months prior to the end of their first term. Upon notification, the Chair of the Board will advise the University Secretary and the Board of Trustees.

2.    Where the Principal has stated a desire to be considered for reappointment to a second term, the Board of Trustees shall meet and determine whether it is prepared to consider that a Review Committee make this recommendation.  A Review Committee will be constituted only where the Board is willing to consider reappointment, in which case a Review Committee will be established by the Board and populated in accordance with Sections 4, 5 and 6 of this Procedure. The Chancellor will chair the Review Committee.

Establishment of Search Committee

3.    Where a reappointment or extension will not take place, a Search Committee will be established by the Board approximately 18 months prior to the end of a Principal’s term and populated in accordance with Sections 4, 5 and 6 of this Procedure. The Chancellor will chair the Search Committee.

Committee Composition

4.    Where the Board has established a Review or Search Committee, the University Secretary will issue a call for expressions of interest to serve from both trustees and senators.  It is desirable that the Governance and Nominating Committees of the Board and the Senate collaborate to ensure that desirable attributes and qualities of Committee members are known across both governance bodies and communicated to those considering an expression of interest for membership.

5.    Expressions of interest from trustees shall be provided to the Governance and Nominating Committee of the Board, which shall recommend for the Board’s approval a slate composed of the Chair of the Board, the Rector, and four Trustees who shall all be Board appointed or Council elected Trustees. Emphasis shall be placed on ensuring those recommended represent a diversity of backgrounds and experiences, in addition to the competencies required for the work.  The Board has final authority to appoint Trustees to the Committee.  

6.    Expressions of interest from senators shall be provided to the Senate Governance and Nominating Committee, which shall recommend for Senate’s approval a slate of six senators to the Senate composed of a dean, one student senator, and four other senators, at least one of whom shall be a faculty senator and one a staff senator.  Emphasis shall be placed on ensuring those recommended represent a diversity of backgrounds and experiences, including a diversity of academic disciplines, in addition to the competencies required for the work.  The Senate has final authority to appoint senators to the Committee.  

7.    The final membership of the Committee shall be communicated to the university community.


8.    It is expected that Committees will complete their work within a reasonable timeframe as outlined below, with the goal that any new incumbent shall take office at the conclusion of the current incumbent’s term, whenever possible.
     a.    The work of the Review Committee shall begin as soon as possible after notification of the Principal’s desire to seek a second term, in order to permit extensive consultation of stakeholders, and to allow for enough time for a search to be conducted should a reappointment not occur. Normally the review will be completed in four months or less.
     b.    The work of the Search Committee shall begin as soon as possible after it is known that an incumbent will not be reappointed, but not more than 18 months prior to the end of the current term of the Principal.  The Committee shall endeavor to conclude its work with enough time to allow for an onboarding period of several months for any new incumbent. Normally the search will be completed in 12 months or less, including any transitioning or onboarding period.

Use of Subcommittees

9.    A Committee may, when appropriate, make use of subcommittees to accomplish tasks such as:
     a.    Consultation and assessment of the views of relevant stakeholders and the community-at-large;
     b.    Development of a Principalship position profile, which shall be informed by a list of desired attributes developed by the Board of Trustees, in consultation with the Senate;
     c.    Review of requests for proposals and the selection of an executive search consultant;
     d.    Development of interview format/questions; and
     e.    Other matters as identified by the Committee.

Orientation Session

10.    There shall be a thorough orientation session for Committee members, including education on:
     a.    Equity, diversity, inclusion, and indigenization in the context of senior searches;
     b.    Trends and developments within the post-secondary sector in the province, country, and globally; 
     c.    In the case of Search Committees, Executive search practices and norms within the post-secondary sector; and
    d.    Roles, responsibilities, and key attributes of successful senior leaders within the post-secondary sector.

Consultation and Communications

11.    Committees shall consult stakeholders internal and external to the university during the course of their work.

12.    In the event of a review, consultation may include a meeting with the current Principal, who shall be permitted to submit documentation for the Review Committee’s information and/or in response to questions or requests from the Committee Chair.

13.    In the event of a search, the Committee shall develop a list of desired attributes for the new Principal. Views on the list of desired attributes shall be solicited from members of the Board, Senate, and University Council; faculty, staff, and student leaders, including representatives of faculty and staff unions and associations, and student societies; individuals and organizations external to the university community, such as the local and provincial government, research funding bodies, peer institutions, heads of organizations to which the university belongs and any other constituencies, groups, or individuals deemed relevant by the Committee.

14.    The university community will be kept up to date on progress related to a review or search.  Communications should include information on committee membership, policies and processes, estimated timelines, and progress.  The Committee chair shall be the only individual who speaks publicly on behalf of the Committee.

Materials and Record-Keeping

15.    Committee materials, including files, minutes, candidate packages, and other documents, are confidential to the Board and shall be maintained by the University Secretary.

16.    At the conclusion of the Review or Search Committee’s work, Committee members shall return all outstanding materials to the University Secretary.

17.    The University Secretariat will retain one set of relevant materials that will serve as a resource for the planning of future Principalship reviews and searches and manage all other records in accordance with the University’s retention policies.

Involvement of university senior leaders

18.    Review and Search Committees should consider opportunities for senior university leaders (e.g., provost, vice-Principals, deans) to participate in the review/selection process through:
     a.    Direct consultation (one-on-one and/or small group interviews);
     b.    Written submissions; and/or
     c.    One-on-one and/or small group interviews with short-listed candidates.


19.    The manner of decision-making of a Committee shall favour consensus-building and avoid voting wherever possible.  Committee members should discuss the principles under which they will work and that will guide their decision-making in an initial meeting.  Generally, Committee members should work toward sharing their opinions, discussing options, and coming to a consensus decision with the understanding that, while their preferred option may not be that chosen by the Committee, they are willing to commit to and support the final decision.

Recommendation to the Board of Trustees

20.    When the Committee has arrived at a recommendation, a meeting of the Board of Trustees shall be called as soon as possible, at which the Board shall consider the recommendations and arrive at a final decision regarding appointment/reappointment.

21.    The Review/Search Committee may submit supporting documentation to the Board for its information, including the preferred candidates’ curriculums vitae, supporting letters, references, etc.

22.    As detailed in the Principalship Review and Search Policy, the responsibility for the appointment rests solely with the Board of Trustees.  Hence, a Search Committee is obligated to present more than one suitable candidate to the Board for its consideration.  

23.    The Board shall attempt to arrive at a decision by consensus, with a formal motion and vote to be noted for the record.  The Committee is advisory to the Board, but the Board is not restricted in any way by the views, opinions, or recommendations of the Committee.


24.    The University Secretariat shall work closely with University Relations throughout the search process, within the bounds of confidentiality, to ensure awareness of timelines and the Committee’s progress.

25.    A draft communications plan should generally be developed once the Committee begins its first-round interviews, and be updated based on progress reports and estimated timing related to a recommendation to the Board.

26.    The public announcement of the appointment/reappointment of a Principal shall be made as soon as possible after the decision of the Board of Trustees.

Academic Appointment

27.    The Principal shall normally receive an offer of an academic appointment in an appropriate Unit.

28.    This appointment shall be referenced in the Principal’s employment letter/contract and will be facilitated by the Office of the Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) (with assistance from Faculty Relations, as required, to ensure compliance with an applicable collective agreement) will liaise with the relevant dean, department head, and appointments committee.

29.    Normally, costs associated with the Principal’s academic appointment shall be borne centrally and not by the appointing department until the commencement of active service within the department.

Onboarding and Recognition Structures

30.    Shortly after the announcement of a new Principal and Vice-Chancellor, the university shall begin work on both the transition/onboarding process for the new incumbent and the formal recognition of the current/outgoing incumbent.
     a.    The Human Resources Committee of the Board of Trustees shall have formal responsibility for oversight of the onboarding and transition of the new Principal.
     b.    Any onboarding/transition committee shall report to the Human Resources Committee.  
     c.    The onboarding/transition committee shall generally be concerned with the following:
        i.    Development of a stakeholder management plan that references governance bodies, students, faculty, staff, alumni and donors, the Kingston community, municipal/provincial/national governments, etc.;
        ii.    Development of an ongoing communications plan introducing the new Principal to the university community; and
        iii.    Development of briefing and onboarding materials that reference community sensitivities, relationship-building with the senior leadership team, the university’s risk register, current strategic planning documents, institutional strengths and weaknesses, and traditions/factors unique to the university.
     d.    Regular updates regarding the onboarding and transition process shall be provided to the Board of Trustees.

Date Approved: March 4, 2022

Approval Authority: Board of Trustees

Date of Commencement: March 4, 2022

Amendment Dates: N/A

Date for Next Review: TBD

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