Executive Search Seeks President for ICI


 Independent Colleges of Indiana is seeking a new President & CEO to provide outstanding leadership for public policy advocacy, collaborative programs, strategic communications, and research initiatives on behalf of the 29 private (independent) non-profit institutions of higher education in the state.


Independent Colleges of Indiana (ICI), a not-for-profit corporation, is a membership association of Indiana’s regionally-accredited, degree-granting, not-for-profit private colleges and universities. ICI advocates for public policies at the state and national level to ensure the autonomy of its member colleges so they can fulfill their missions and serve their students, faculty, staff, alumni and communities. ICI helps colleges be efficient in the use of resources and collaborates on ventures and services to promote the well-being of the campuses. ICI develops and administers innovative programs that support student choice and access to higher education. ICI is committed to sustaining itself as a flexible, efficient, and responsive organization. 

ICI is America’s oldest association of private colleges and universities to act collectively at the state level for the betterment of their students and communities. That legacy began in 1948 with collaborative fundraising. Today, ICI serves its members as the voice for private higher education, speaking for and speaking to its member presidents on matters of vital importance. 

The governance of ICI rests with its board of directors, consisting of the presidents of the member institutions and other leaders from Indiana’s business and policy arenas. The ICI staff consists of nine professionals, who work as a collaborative and cross-functional team. Serving as a welcoming home base to 29 member campuses, ICI Center is located in the heart of Indianapolis and provides convening facilities, a visible capital-city presence with easy access to the Indiana Statehouse, and a central location for accessing every part of the state. 

The students attending ICI institutions comprise one-sixth of all full-time undergraduate Indiana students. Its institutions grant one-third of all baccalaureate degrees awarded in the state and an even higher share of the state’s STEM-related degrees. Sixty percent of ICI students graduate in four years; 80 percent graduate in six years. With the bulk of student aid coming from the colleges themselves, median student debt is $32,000. With some 100,000 total students, ICI institutions span doctoral universities, liberal arts colleges, comprehensive institutions, and church-related colleges. 

ICI colleges contribute more than $5.3 billion in economic impact to Indiana. The campuses employ more than 22,000 full-time employees with $1.2 billion in salary, wages, and benefits. Together ICI colleges account for nearly a million in tax contributions (sales, payroll, FICA, nonexempt real estate, etc.). 

ICI’s public policy advocacy efforts help Indiana rank 1st in the Midwest and 4th in the United States for state-funded student aid, with approximately $60 million annually in scholarships for Indiana students attending private institutions. The Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Program (LECSP), which ICI manages, offered privately-funded grants totaling more than $19 million in 2020-2021. As a recognized leader in collaboration at the national level, ICI developed a multi-employer retirement program and a multi-employer health insurance trust. Both of these programs provide significant savings, cost avoidance, and liability protection for the members. In addition, ICI provides training and technical advice to campuses on Title IX regulations.


Independent Colleges of Indiana exists to promote the health and autonomy of its member colleges.

The principal activities and purposes of ICI:

  • To educate and advocate as the primary public policy voice for Indiana’s private non-profit institutions, focused on financial aid for all students and the independence of ICI colleges and universities; 
  • To represent the interests and effectively communicate the unique role and contributions of the independent higher education sector to opinion leaders, including government, corporate and philanthropic; counselors, students, and families; general public; and media; 
  • To promote innovative collaborations among member institutions that heighten individual institutional identity, provide best-in-class assets, and define sector significance in public opinion; 
  • To conduct research and to collect, analyze, and interpret data to provide information about the member institutions to the colleges, as well as to other constituencies; 
  • To foster collaborative working relationships and shared initiatives among key campus groups (chief financial officers, academic officers, admissions and financial aid, public relations, etc.) to strengthen and advance the collective and individual interests of Indiana’s independent campuses; 
  • To administer grants for the collective benefit of member colleges; and 
  • To function as the support staff to the Indiana Academy, a prestigious honorary society that provides recognition to Hoosier civic leaders who have demonstrated significant leadership across the state and support of private higher education. 


​In July 2022, Dr. David Wantz, retired after more than 40 years of service in private higher education, including 5 years as the president of ICI. Dr. Wantz’s tenure at ICI was marked by innovation and steady leadership especially during an international pandemic when ICI served as a conduit for collaboration among its 29 member institutions. Mr. Kurt Dykstra, JD, led ICI for eight months after Wantz’s retirement, and then he resigned from ICI to pursue other opportunities. Dr. Wantz rejoined ICI as President and CEO until a successor is appointed. 

Seeing a need to strengthen the leadership on campuses, the ICI team created a leadership academy for both academic and professional staff members. A thorough, web-based economic indicator now provides accurate data on the effect of Indiana’s private colleges on their communities and regions. ICI created a health insurance trust for member campuses to control rising healthcare costs. In its first year, members saved a million dollars that would have otherwise gone to insurance carriers and received only a four percent rate increase for the next year. In the same year, ICI developed a multi-employer retirement program that uses TIAA’s investment platform. The retirement plan gives members much-reduced fees and offloads many administrative and liability matters while giving campus employees excellent service and advice. 

When the COVID-19 pandemic swept across Indiana, ICI held weekly Zoom meetings to help navigate the many unprecedented decisions that faced its member presidents. Some of ICI’s tasks included facilitating a meeting with the entire Indiana Congressional delegation, multiple meetings with key state officials, securing supplies and services at economies of scale, writing boilerplate policies to address the pandemic-related campus changes, and offered expert advice and consultation on CARES Act and Paycheck Protection Program details. The entire staff delivered testing materials across the state overnight when the State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box asked for help screening students prior to Thanksgiving break. 

In June 2020, in the midst of the pandemic the U.S. Department of Education delivered new Title IX regulations that were to take effect at the end of August. In a few short weeks, ICI developed and produced training on the new law to every campus. In addition, ICI created a pool of investigators and advisors that campuses could call on to help with their Title IX complaints. 

The Holy Grail of demonstrating the value of a college degree is accurate, unassailable data documenting what happens after students graduate. Working with the US Census Bureau, ICI is the first private college association in the nation to post on its website graduates’ results by major and by campus. The searchable database lists the degree field, the jobs where graduates are employed, the state they live in, their median annual data, and their median annual student debt. This publicly available data proves the value of a degree from Indiana’s private colleges. 

When all other parts of Indiana’s state budget were reduced by 15 percent, Governor Holcomb and the Legislature held student aid steady. Maintaining the level of student aid is a testament to many years of successfully influencing policy-makers as to the value of ICI’s colleges. Even during the darkest days of a pandemic, policymakers were convinced that helping Hoosiers complete a college degree was essential to Indiana’s future. 

More than 20 years ago, the Lilly Endowment created the Community Scholars Program which provides 121 full-tuition-plus-books stipend to students attending a college in Indiana. ICI administers that program in close concert with local community foundations. ICI oversees other significant grant programs of the Ball Brothers Foundation, the John W. Anderson Foundation, the Nicholas Noyes Foundation, and United Parcel Service. ICI staff neither raises funds on its own nor charges grant administration fees to its members. 

ICI enjoys a deep relationship with the Indiana Academy. Modeled after the French Academy (Académie Française), the Indiana Academy recognizes Hoosiers who have made a significant contribution to Indiana and to private higher education. It is the highest non-political honor in the state, the Sagamore being the political recognition. The Indiana Academy celebrated its 50th anniversary at a gala event in October 2021. The Academy dedicates its ongoing support to Indiana’s future by underwriting the ICI Leadership program each year. 


  • Continuing to be the public policy advocate for Indiana independent higher education; working effectively to promote the cause of student financial aid; working to meet the state’s need for more college degree recipients; developing strategies with the public sector to further the state’s economic development goals; 
  • Continuing the tradition of innovation and collaboration to secure the future health and well-being of Indiana’s 29 private colleges; 
  • Anticipating the need to address new developments in higher education; understanding the opportunities/challenges inherent in these emerging trends and issues in order to lead and, when appropriate, responding on behalf of the independent sector; 
  • Continuing its excellent relationships with foundations and other grantors, furthering the alignment of the Indiana Academy and ICI in the preparation of the next generation of academic leaders. 
  • Finding new and innovative strategies to educate and engage high school counselors, students, and parents about the value and affordability of Indiana’s private colleges; 
  • Establishing and maintaining close ties to elected and appointed officials at the state and federal level, working closely with other advocates and organizations such as NAICU to advance the mission of private higher education, monitoring the potential impact of state and national government initiatives on higher education; and 
  • Strengthening the organization through board building; promoting staff development; giving strong direction, delegation, and encouragement to the staff; continuing to ensure organizational effectiveness through accountability measures. 


The governing board of Independent Colleges of Indiana desires a strong inspirational leader and strategic thinker who will celebrate and promote the academic diversity and strength of its 29 member institutions and: 

  • Is a person of high integrity and character and an energetic, collaborative leader; 
  • Has strong communication skills; is an effective writer; and is a thoughtful, articulate spokesperson for the organization and its members; 
  • Possesses significant senior-level administrative higher education experience; is an accomplished professional inside or outside of higher education; understands the most important issues affecting private higher education in Indiana; 
  • Fosters a culture of responsive and quality service to ICI members and other stakeholders; a history of solving complex problems; 
  • Engages actively at the national level in various higher education organizations in order to represent and promote the interests and influence of ICI colleges and universities; 
  • Has a background in public policy advocacy in higher education or related area; 
  • Holds a terminal degree (JD, PhD, EdD, MFA, etc.) from a regionally accredited institution; 
  • Embodies many of the following characteristics: bridge-builder, self-starter, quick-study, consensus-builder, decision-maker; and 
  • Promotes staff development and accountability through effective hiring, promotion, and training. 


  1. Revenue/Expenditures
    • Annual Operating Budget—$2.1M
      Member Dues/Assessments—$1.3M
    • Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Program (LECSP)
      Holdings for Scholarship Payments—$85M
      LECSP Administrative Grant—$1.7M
    • Other Corporate and Foundation Gifts/Grants @ 03/31/2023—$387,421
    • ICI: Indiana Academy Endowment @ 03/31/2023—$870,107
  2. Financial Reserves (Cash) @ 03/31/2023—$1.5M


To apply, please submit these three (3) separate documents in PDF format to ksmith@icindiana.org. To ensure full consideration, materials should be received no later than Monday, May 15, 2023. The position will remain open until filled. This is a confidential search process.

  1. A letter of interest that succinctly addresses how your experience, skills, and education correspond to the position qualifications and opportunities and prepare you to serve the needs of Independent Colleges of Indiana;
  2. A current resume or CV, including an email address and mobile telephone number; and
  3. A list of three references with names, best telephone numbers, and email addresses. Please include supervisors, direct reports, and professional associates. References will not be contacted until final approval is given by the candidate.