By Brandon Shaw, Daily Staff Reporter
Published September 9, 2013
Who will be the next University president? It’s a question on the minds of many at the University, but few know exactly what goes into the search process.
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That’s why Regent Katherine White spoke at Monday’s University Council meeting, to inform the body on the upcoming search for the next University president. White stressed that she wasn’t speaking in her official capacity as vice chair of the presidential search advisory committee.
The University Council — a governing board comprised of the heads of each of the colleges that make up the University, as well as the heads of prominent student organizations on campus — was created two years ago in the hopes of adding more student voices to the University’s existing legislative process.
In an effort to gain input from students, faculty and staff, White said the Board of Regents has set up an e-mail address so that students and other interested members of the University community can comment and suggest nominations for University president. The address is hosted by Russell Reynolds Associates, the professional firm that was hired for the presidential search in July.
White said it’s important to find a candidate who excels at development, a skill that she said University President Mary Sue Coleman possesses.
“If you look at where we’re building, it’s athletic, it’s hospital, it’s dormitories, but if you look at the core undergraduate mission, all of the core, we need to find more money to raise money and invest there,” White said. “It’s harder because people want to give money for flashier things. So, that’s what we have to work on.”
White added that a candidate’s research background and academic expertise will also be a major factor.
“I want someone who’s got real merit, academic chops, to run the institution,” White said. “Even though we need other skills, I think this is the greatest university in the world, with the greatest depth and breadth of research in the world — I need someone who understands that world.”
White also emphasized that the confidentiality will be very important throughout the interview process, “so that when we do select someone, we haven’t had some leak of information that could be a problem.”
White referenced Coleman, who was president at the University of Iowa at the time she interviewed for her current position at the University, as a prime example of why the candidate process should remain secret until it’s completed.
“Think about if she hadn’t gotten the job, how that would have looked on her career — on her life at Iowa — that she was interviewing elsewhere. So, confidentiality is of the utmost importance.”
Correction appended: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Regent White did not clarify to members of University Council that she was not speaking in an official capacity.