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Zachary Smith, Ph.D.

Zachary A. Smith, Ph.D., is senior partner and deputy managing partner for Witt/Kieffer’s Education Practice. Based in Irvine, California, he conducts nationwide searches for C-suite and leadership executives within education, healthcare and the non-profit sector. Zach works with clients across the U.S. 

Zach brings over 17 years of leadership experience as a practitioner and consultant to the firm. He has supported and led higher education president searches for AAU, research, regional comprehensive, polytechnic and liberal arts institutions. He has also supported executive leadership searches for a broad range of public and private universities and healthcare organizations.

As a former practitioner, Zach leverages his breadth of organizational and leadership experience with a strategic and consultative approach focused on delivering high-quality client service and results. He has a keen understanding of the importance of leadership effectiveness as it relates to organizational culture, and is particularly skillful at identifying candidates who have the propensity for success at each specific client organization. Zach received Witt/Kieffer’s 2016 Quality Award recognizing his clients’ satisfaction and his overall impact on the firm’s values and ideals.

Prior to joining Witt/Kieffer, Zach served as UC Riverside’s interim chief development officer/associate vice chancellor and executive vice president for the UC Riverside Foundation. He also worked in the advancement and academic medicine divisions at UC Irvine. Zach is a frequent presenter at industry events with a focus on leadership development, the search process, and overall talent management trends. He is the co-author of Making the Case for Leadership: Profiles of Chief Advancement Officers in Higher Education, and has published articles in the Journal of Leadership and Organization Studies, the International Journal of Educational Advancement, and the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Zach serves on Witt/Kieffer's board of directors.

Ph.D., University of Nevada, Las Vegas
M.S., University of Nevada, Las Vegas
B.S., Boise State University, Boise, ID


Thought Leadership


Current Searches

Ball State University | Bryan Dean of the Miller College of Business | Muncie, IN
Ball State University | Dean of Teachers College | Muncie, IN
Ball State University | Dean, College of Architecture and Planning | Muncie, IN
California State University, Sacramento (Sacramento State) | Dean, College of Social Sciences and Interdisciplinary Studies | Sacramento, CA
San Diego State University | Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs | San Diego, CA
San Jose State University | Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs | San Jose, CA
University of California, Berkeley | Dean, School of Public Health | Berkeley, CA
University of Nevada, Las Vegas | Senior Associate Vice President for Development and Campaign Director | Las Vegas, NV
University of Northern Colorado | Provost and Senior Vice President | Greeley, CO
University of South Dakota | Dean of the School of Health Sciences | Vermillion, SD
University of South Dakota | Dean of the School of Law | Vermillion, SD
Wilcox Medical Center | Vice President for Clinic Operations | Lihue, HI

Recent Searches

View Prior Placements

Zachary Smith, Ph.D.
Senior Partner, Deputy Managing Partner, Education and Board Member
2 Park Plaza
Suite 1140
Irvine, CA 92614
Phone: 949-851-5070
Fax: 949-851-2412
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