Human Resources Policies

HR101 Positions Requiring National Search Process

Policy Status: 


Subject Matter Expert: 

Lori Yacisin, 814-865-9343,

Policy Steward: 

Vice President for Human Resources

POLICY'S INITIAL DATE: January 14, 2013 





This policy defines the positions requiring a national search and the general process for completing that search.  The University is committed to pursuing excellence through the diversity of its students, faculty, and staff.  The University values an educational environment that is dynamic and embraces diversity in backgrounds, ideas, and perspectives.  The national search process supports the University's commitment to diversity in the recruitment and selection process.


A national search including national advertising is required for all executive positions, Division I head coaching positions, associate athletic director, and athletic director positions.


Affirmative Action: The Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) enforces Executive Order 11246, as amended; Chapter 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended; the affirmative action provisions (Section 4212) of the Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act, as amended and Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008. Taken together, these laws ban discrimination and require the University and its subcontractors to take affirmative action to ensure that all individuals have equal opportunity for employment, without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, genetic information, or status as a Vietnam era or special disabled veteran.

Diversity and Inclusivity: Employing a workforce that is genuinely reflective of the society in which institutions exist and operate, and ensuring that all members of the workforce are treated fairly and respectfully, have equal access to opportunities and resources, and can contribute fully to the organization's success.

Equal Employment Opportunity: Federal and state opportunity legislation prohibits discrimination based on any prohibited characteristic. In accordance with the University's non-discrimination statement, Penn State's employment practices do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, ancestry, religious creed, gender, disability or handicap, age, genetic information, veteran's status, gender identity, or sexual orientation.

Executive Positions: the President of the University, Provost, Sr. Vice President for Finance and Business/Treasurer, Vice Presidents, Deans of academic colleges, and other senior leadership positions as determined by the President.

Executive Search Firm: an external firm retained to assist with the recruitment process typically charging either on a flat fee or percentage of the candidate's first year's earnings basis. The role of the search firm can range from full service (creating the job description/ advertisements, advertising, recruiting candidates, conducting background checks, communicating with applicants, scheduling interviews and campus visits, confirming offers and assisting in onboarding of candidate) to a smaller scope focused strictly on recruitment of hard-to-find candidates.

National Search: an open search for potential candidates for vacancies that includes notification to both internal Penn State and external audiences that applications are being sought for the identified position and that the University encourages qualified individuals from typically underrepresented groups to apply. National searches should include advertising on websites, specifically those targeting underrepresented groups, and/or in publications appropriate to the specific position.


The next higher administrative office will be identified as the Hiring Executive with responsibilities to evaluate the need for a Search Committee, collaborate with Human Resources to nationally advertise the vacancy, and engage an executive search firm, when appropriate.


Unless a waiver is requested and granted (as defined below), all searches for positions covered by this policy must entail a vigorous national search in addition to the posting process. Due to the University's commitment to diversity, searches must include serious efforts to achieve a pool of highly-qualified applicants that include members of underrepresented groups. Searches should be implemented consistent with Policy HR11 - Affirmative Action in Employment at The Pennsylvania State University.


Search committees are strongly encouraged. If a Search Committee is used, it should be identified by the Hiring Executive and may include faculty, staff, and/or student members of the college/unit within which leadership is sought, as well as members from outside of the unit who have direct interests in the selection process.  All search committees should include a diverse representation of members to ensure that various perspectives are considered when recruiting and evaluating candidates throughout the search process. In addition, consideration should be given to representation from multiple departments and/or locations within and outside of the unit/college; individuals with knowledge of the functional area; individuals with demonstrated ability in promoting a deliberative process; and individuals with the ability to effectively encourage inclusion of diverse perspectives.

It is important for every member of the Search Committee to thoroughly understand the requirements of the position to be filled, the needs of the department or unit, University policies regarding equal employment opportunity, and the mission and values of the University in order to assure the prospect of a successful search. The efforts to recruit a diverse pool of candidates must reflect the efforts of the full committee.  Units should not place the responsibility to diversify the pool specifically on the members of the search committee who are from the underrepresented groups.The Hiring Executive and/or Search Committee Chair will "charge" the Search Committee with their responsibilities, provide information on the extent of its authority, and provide a clear understanding of the scope and responsibilities of the position being filled.

The Search Committee, with the assistance of Human Resources, will assist in the development of the final job description and advertising description, review applicant materials, participate in the determination of candidates to be interviewed, and interview candidates for potential recommendation of further consideration. The Search Committee will present their evaluations and recommendations of candidates to the Hiring Executive for review and consideration. At the request of either the Search Committee or the Hiring Executive, a meeting to discuss recommendations will be held.


One of the most important elements of the recruitment process is creating a broad and diverse applicant pool. In order to encourage highly-qualified applicants, including those from underrepresented groups, to apply for the vacancies, the hiring unit should conduct a national search that includes advertising in a variety of publications including those targeting higher-education, diverse candidate pools, and a variety of professional organizations. Hiring Executives and Committee Chairs should collaborate with Human Resources to determine the most effective venues to reach highly-qualified diverse candidates and to appropriately manage advertising expenditures.


The Hiring Executive may or may not decide to retain the services of a search firm. If a search firm is used, Human Resources will work in collaboration with the unit to engage an executive search firm, if appropriate. Contracts/engagement letters for executive search firm services must be reviewed and approved by the Risk Management office and Human Resources prior to commitment. In addition, contracts/engagement letters for executive search firms require the approval of the Executive Vice President and Provost for academic executive positions or the Sr. Vice President for Finance and Business/Treasurer for non-academic positions. All executive search firms will be required to comply with Penn State's requirements for legal compliance, diversity initiatives, and confidentiality, and have a proven record of recruiting and advancing a diverse pool of candidates.


The national search process has been designed to support the University's commitment to affirmative action and to encourage excellence through enlarging the pools of diverse qualified candidates; therefore, waivers from utilizing this process will only be permitted based on appropriate justification. Senior unit and/or campus leadership requesting a waiver must provide information detailing the unique situation that would warrant a waiver. Circumstances that may be considered include, but are not limited to: an opportunity to hire an individual with unique and specialized expertise; vacancies that occur due to exigent or unforeseen circumstances that need to be filled immediately; positions that are being filled on an interim basis until a national search can be completed; unique personal situations such as spousal hires; target of opportunity hires that serve underrepresented groups; or reorganizations within a college or unit. Search waivers require the approval of the Vice President of Human Resources (or his/her designee) or the President of the University.


HR01 - Fair Employment Practices

HR11 - Affirmative Action in Employment at The Pennsylvania State University

Date Approved: 

August 10, 2020

Date Published: 

August 10, 2020

Effective Date: 

January 14, 2013