The University Board of Regents is steadily sifting through an abundance of resources to decide the structure of the presidential search to find a successor for departing President Lee Bollinger.

Advice and suggestions have come from many corners of the University community, and the regents are also drawing from past presidential searches at the University and elsewhere, Regent S. Martin Taylor said yesterday.

The regents held a private conference call Tuesday night to discuss their options, a day after four of the eight regents attended a town hall meeting at Angell Hall.

Regent Larry Deitch (D-Bingham Farms) said the town hall meeting was helpful. As part of the University community, the regents value the suggestions of the students, faculty, staff and alumni, he said.

“We”re trying to get all of the input in and then decide how to go about it,” said Taylor (D-Grosse Pointe Farms). “I think the plan we come up with will be pretty well accepted. I hope it will be.”

Another aspect the regents are considering is whether to enlist the help of a consulting firm.

Malcolm MacKay, a consultant for New York City-based executive search firm Russell Reynolds & Associates, helped in the 1996 presidential search that brought Bollinger to the helm of the University.

MacKay said the regents had not contacted him regarding this presidential search, and Taylor said the regents are still undecided on the issue.

There are positive and negative aspects to hiring consulting firms in a search, Taylor said. They have the ability to handle the massive amounts of paperwork that accompany a search, and they have an established network in higher education.

But “they tend to be very, very expensive,” Taylor said, adding the University is already equipped with experienced staff who may be able to handle the search without outside help.

MacKay said a third party can make the process easier on the University. A firm “can reach out in a way that would be hard for the client to do,” MacKay said.

A consulting firm would begin to work for the University after the search committee and the regents outline exactly what qualities, experience and credentials they are looking for in a candidate, MacKay said. “That sounds simple, but it”s not. It”s actually the most important part of the search.”

From there, the consulting firm would reach out to possible candidates. “Often very good candidates are very happy where they are and they won”t apply,” MacKay said.

Ultimately the decision to hire the firm lies with the regents, who are expected to announce the search process within two weeks.

The regents have also discussed the composition of the search committee. The challenge is to include a broad representation on all three campuses “but not too large a group that it becomes unwieldy,” Taylor said.

“All that is still under discussion,” he said.

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