Dowagiac Union Schools hires consulting firm for superintendent search

Published 1:31 pm Wednesday, October 18, 2023

DOWAGIAC — Dowagiac Union Schools’ search for a new superintendent to replace the retiring Jonathan Whan began Monday with the hiring of a consulting firm.

The Dowagiac Union Schools Board of Education unanimously voted to hire consultant Dave Killips of the Michigan Leadership Institute at the cost of $6,200 to assist in the search for a new superintendent.

With Whan retiring after the 2023-24 school year, the district is committed to finding the best candidate to lead DUS’ future.

“I think he was the best choice,” she said. “He did a really good job of presenting and I liked all of his ideas, it’s something different than what we had in the past.”

MLI brings in a wealth of experience from its many hires across the state. A former superintendent at the Chelsea School District, Killips said he has conducted nearly 50 superintendent searches over the course of his career. A St. Joseph resident, Killips added that he’s very familiar with Southwest Michigan.

“I’m not going to hide anything from you and I’m not going to hide anything from the candidates,” Killips said. “We want to have a good marriage when this whole thing is done. That’s important; we want a good marriage and someone who’s there that’s going to be promoting all kids as we go through this.”

In his tentative search outline, Killips said his goal is for the district to select its new superintendent before spring break begins.

“The reason for that is once you’ve made it to January and February, all of a sudden superintendents start announcing their retirement,” he said. “(Whan) has done this district a big favor by announcing very early and allowing you to get to the trough earlier than other districts.”

My job is to do the groundwork with all these candidates, find out what’s positive, what’s negative and what might be a good fit for Dowagiac,” he said. “Our organization is made up of long-standing, retired, superintendents at the local and ISD level. We know what the job takes. We know that every decision you make is not going to be accepted by all; you can’t even call a snow day without somebody arguing about it anymore. We realized that we need to hunt down those red flags and find out what they’re about. That’s where I come in.”