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Witt/Kieffer Expands Higher Education Practice

Friday, January 10, 2014

Contact:  Emma McKinstry     
212/576.2700 /



Oak Brook, IL, January 9, 2014 – Witt/Kieffer, a leading executive search firm has added three new consultants to the firm’s rapidly growing, successful Higher Education practice.

“We continue to grow and build a foundation for our firm’s future in higher education,” says Charles W.B. Wardell III, Witt/Kieffer president and CEO. “These three dynamic individuals bring with them an expansive knowledge of academia that will serve our clients and the executives we recruit exceptionally well.”

• Robert Luke joins the practice as a New England-based associate. He will assist in identifying presidents, chancellors, provosts, deans and vice presidents on behalf of public and private colleges and universities. Robert has an accomplished background in academia, most recently serving as the special assistant to the office of the provost for George Washington University in Washington, DC. Robert has also worked as deputy campaign manager and senior staff assistant for the office of former United States Senator Bill Nelson. He holds an M.A. in Public Policy and an M.P.S. from George Washington University, and a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Central Florida.

• Margaret “Peggy” Plympton, based in Nazareth, PA, joins Witt/Kieffer as an executive search consultant in both the firm’s Higher Education and Not-for-Profit practices. In this role, she will support nationwide searches for presidents, chancellors, provosts and deans, as well as leaders in research, academic medicine, IT, finance, administration, and other areas. Before joining Witt/Kieffer, Peggy served for more than 10 years as the vice president for finance and administration at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA. Peggy earned an Ed.D. in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania. She also holds an M.B.A. from Boston University and a B.A. in Latin from Wellesley College.

• Zachary A. Smith, Ph.D. joins Witt/Kieffer’s Higher Ed practice as a consultant. Based in Irvine, California, he will focus on recruiting advancement officers as well as other high-level administrators including presidents, provosts, chancellors and deans. Most recently, Zach held the role of Interim Chief Development Officer and Executive Vice President for the UCR Foundation, as well as Assistant Vice Chancellor for Development at the University of California, Riverside, where he has worked since 2010. Prior to his time at UC Riverside, Zach was the Director of Development at the University of California, Irvine. He earned his Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and M.S. in Kinesiology from UNLV, and holds a B.S. in Athletic Training from Boise State University.

“Higher education is undergoing somewhat of a revolution,” says Lucy A. Leske, Managing Partner of Witt/Kieffer’s Higher Education practice. “Leadership is changing dramatically, something that Robert, Peggy, and Zachary understand very well. They add tremendous support to our firm’s ability to help clients find leaders who can truly guide their institutions into an uncertain future.”

For more information or for interview requests, please contact Emma McKinstry at 212.576.2700 and

Witt/Kieffer is among the nation’s preeminent executive search firms and the only major, national firm that specializes in healthcare, higher education and not-for-profit organizations. Founded in 1969, its mission is to identify outstanding leadership solutions for organizations committed to improving the quality of life. Clients include hospitals, health systems, academic medical centers, medical schools, physician groups, life sciences, pharmaceutical and medical device companies, colleges, universities, sports foundations and human services organizations. The firm conducts nearly 600 search assignments each year for C-suite roles, including CEOs, COOs, CFOs, CIOs, presidents, provosts, deans, physician executives, clinical chairs and other senior executives.



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