President Ruud participates in 5th annual President/Search Firm Roundtable Event

Bill Ruud headshot

Women Leaders in College Sports (Women Leaders) and the NCAA hosted its fifth annual President/Search Firm Roundtable Event on Tuesday, February 23 in a virtual format. Marietta College President Bill Ruud was one of 20 presidents and chancellors who participated.

The event included 70 talented and diverse executive women from all three NCAA divisions, 36 percent of which were women of color. The participants are members of Women Leaders in College Sports with executive profiles in Women Leaders' Career Connect platform, and were identified for the program based on their level and years of experience in the industry, and an expressed desire to step into an athletic and commissioner role within the next one to three years.

The roundtable event positioned senior-level women in front of a diverse and influential group of industry experts and leaders who are deeply connected to collegiate athletics, and have a strong understanding of the hiring landscape and process. Among the experts engaged were 20 university presidents and chancellors and 38 industry experts inclusive of search firm representatives, industry consultants, as well as sitting athletic directors and commissioners.

"The purpose of this event is to provide a platform for women to connect with hiring influencers, and to gain access to information to help them prepare, position themselves, and ultimately, win executive-level jobs," said Patti Phillips, CEO of Women Leaders in College Sports. "It also connects hirers and influencers with talented and ready female leaders. The time to move the needle on more diverse and inclusive hires is now."

The President/Search Firm Roundtable event comprised of three components:

  • A panel featuring recent Athletic Director hires who shared their personal perspective and experience navigating the search process
  • Small group roundtable discussions led by the university presidents and chancellors
  • One-on-one coaching sessions with industry experts

Each participant met with three presidents and four industry experts throughout the virtual event and had the opportunity to ask questions and gain a better understanding of the search process and hiring trends. Influencers involved were asked to inform and advise women candidates on navigating the search process.

"This event serves as a platform for connection between emerging women executives and hiring influencers in the industry," said Dr. Derrick Gragg, Senior Vice President of Inclusion, Education & Community at the NCAA. "We are thrilled to align with Women Leaders on this powerful event that supports the advancement of women in collegiate athletics."

Over the past five years, Women Leaders and the NCAA have partnered on the President/Search Firm Roundtable event and hosted it in-person at the Women Leaders in College Sports National Convention. The annual event was created in support of The NCAA Presidential Pledge and reflects the NCAA and Women Leaders in College Sports joint commitment to promoting diversity and gender equity in intercollegiate athletics. The program has engaged more than 200 women executives from across all three NCAA divisions. This year's virtual format has allowed the program to accept a record high number of women and engage four times as many presidents, chancellors and industry experts.