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By Martha Sevetson
... restoredfinancial stability to the
University after cutbacks in state
T HE SEARCH IS ON.
The University is about to lose President Harold Shapiro to
his new post at Princeton University, but the quest for his
successor is far from over. Although the University's Board of
Regents initiated the search last May, the selection committee
is only now ready to establish a list of selection criteria.
Shapiro will become the next president of Princeton - his
alma mater - this January, ending his eight-year term as the
University's top administrator. University officials have
praised his performance, increasing the already high demands
on his prospective successors.
"He's done an outstanding job," said Regent Thomas Roach
(D-Saline). "We thought he was fantastic when we picked him,
and he's exceeded our expectations."
Shapiro, formerly the vice president for academic affairs,
was selected as president after a ten-month search process in
1978. Reduced state budget allocations had forced the
University into financial hardship, and Shapiro - former chair
of the University's Economics department - was known for
his economic expertise.
"The regents have had an uncanny ability to select the
appropriate person for the job in each era," said Vice President
for Government Relations Richard Kennedy. "(Shapiro's)
greatest contribution was seeing the University through a
period of extraordinary financial difficulty."
Shapiro's excellent reputation for financial leadership made
him the clear choice of the Princeton selection committee,
which chose him in less than three months during their search
last spring. Current Princeton President William Bowen is
also a highly regarded economist.
According to Craig Bloom, editor of the Daily
Princetonian, Shapiro was a conservative choice - not
expected to bring any radical changes to campus. "Shapiro
came quickly as a consensus," Bloom said. "The attitude was:
'This is your best candidate, but you'll never get him."'
B3ut Princeton did. And as Shapiro returns to his alma
mater, the University is left with a vacancy at its helm.
"In a sense, it's a bad thing that an esteemed colleague is
leaving," said Political Scignce Prof. Raymond Tanter. "But
it's a good thing in that it allows for a reassessment of the
This appraisal became the first formal step of the
... at the University's helm during a
period of social unrest and student
University's selection process. Last May, the board appointed
themselves as the Presidential Selection Committee.
Following the procedure used in 1978, the regents created three
advisory committees composed of students, faculty members,
Over the summer, the advisory committees met
independently to draw up three lists of needs at the University.
The students' statement, completed in June, summarized
student demands in recent years. The committee called for more
racial diversity on campus, more emphasis on teaching, and
greater student rights.
The faculty and alumni statements, also completed over the
summer, were not released to the public.
In addition, the regents have solicited input from the
University's executive officers, the chancellors of the regional
campuses at Flint and Dearborn, and various state legislators.
According to Roach, the statements and suggestions have
been evaluated by the regents, and preliminary drafts of a list
of criteria have been circulated. "The advisory committees'
next step will be to assist us in evaluating and narrowing the
list of candidates," he said.
A list of candidates has already accumulated from
nominations and applications received by the Presidential
Search Office in the Business School. Although most
candidates will be nominees rather than applicants, according
to Roach, the University has advertised the position in
periodicals such as the Wall Street Journal and the Chronicle
on Higher Education.
According to Regent Paul Brown (D-Petoskey), many of
these candidates and applicants will never be interviewed by the
search committee. "You can eliminate 90 percent or 75 percent
of candidates just from the material you gather on paper," he
Roach said the search - though still in its early stages -
is following the timetable anticipated last May. But most
University officials agree that the new president is unlikely to
take office immediately when Shapiro leaves.
Roach - a co-chair of the search committee - predicted
the entire process would take eight months. On this schedule,
the new president would be selected early in January. "If we
choose someone from inside, it's possible the person would
take office immediately," he said.
Two of the last four University presidents rose from faculty
and administrative ranks; the other two were administrators at
other universities. The "number two" University administrator
- Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost James
Duderstadt - has denied any interest in the presidential spot.
If the new president is a top administrator at another college
or university, the office may remain vacant until the new
president can leave his or her former position. Shapiro
requested an eight-month stay at the University after accepting
his position at Princeton.
Top administrators at other universities whose names have
been mentioned in speculation over the University's search
have refused to comment on the position.
The regents are expected to appoint an interim president -
possibly former President Robben Fleming - to fill the gap.
During the 1978 presidential search, former Vice President for
Academic Affairs Allen Smith was appointed interim
president. Duderstadt also served as interim president when
Shapiro was on sabbatical last year.
Athough most state universities entrust the final
presidential selection to the board of regents or trustees, the
selection process used to narrow the candidates to a small pool
varies greatly among Big 10 schools.
At Indiana University, which selected a new president last
spring, the Board of Trustees established a search committee
composed of students, faculty members, staff members, a
business executive, and a trustee. The committee narrowed the
pool of candidates to three, and the Board of Trustees approved
the final selection.
During the University of Wisconsin's recent search for a
new chancellor, the Board of Regents established a 13-person
committee to narrow the field of candidates. This procedure
also involved student and faculty representation in the actual
The University of Iowa's Board of Regents have employed
Heidrick and Sturggles Executive Search Firm in Chicago to
develop and narrow a list of potential candidates in its current
"The process tends to be generally the same, but all
universities have their own special needs," said William J.
Bowen, vice president of Heidrick and Struggles. "The inner
workings of how you get to your short list tend to be different
depending on your needs at the time."
Bowen has consulted over 60 universities involved in
searches for top administrators. "There's always a search
committee, always a mission statement, and always a
description of qualifications," he said. "And all searches are
confidential in the sense that only the committee deals with
the names that are under consideration."
According to Bowen, the top candidates would not involve
themselves in a public search process. "Many of the best
names don't apply - they have to be courted," he said. "The
very best people are not going to run in a beauty contest."
The University's Board of Regents has emphasized this need
for confidentdlity since the search was initiated. At the May
board meeting, Regent Deane Baker (R-Ann Arbor) said "a
breach of confidence shall be cause for dismissal from the
Dave Newblatt, chair of the student committee, said the
confidentiality requirement poses a dilemma to him. "The pact
of secrecy makes sure names under consideration don't get out
early, and you have to make sure that doesn't happen," he said.
"But you have to make sure the process is more open than it
is. Taxpayers are paying, and students are paying. It's
everyone's university, but practically no one gets involved in
selecting the president."
State Sen. Lana Pollack (D-Ann Arbor) said that while
confidentiality is needed at this stage, the final pool of
candidates should be open to public scrutiny.
"There's a great risk still to the three to five candidates, but
I think that has to be balanced with the need for openness of a
public university," Pollack said. "It's a conflict of needs, but
in the end the Open Meetings Act is there for a reason and has
to be strictly observed by the regents."
The Open Meetings Act is a state law that compels elected
officials to allow public attendance at meetings when a set
quorum of officials is present
Roach said that the regents are exempt from the Open
Meetings Act even at the final stage if the candidates under
consideration request confidentiality. All of the candidates in
the 1978 search requested confidentiality.
Kennedy, who works very closely with state legislators,
said that an open search process must be sacrificed to attract
the best candidates. "While the public has a right to know, the
public also has a right to have its institutions run by the best
possible people it can find," Kennedy said. "I think the
public's interest is served by the fact that their representatives
are picking the person. That's the principal job (the regents)
Vice President for Student Services Henry Johnson also
supports the regents' search. "The end products have always
been good from the process," he said. "If it ain't broke, don't
The chancellors of both the Flint and Dearborn regional
campuses said the regents are very receptive to their interests
in the search process. Both have been invited to participate in
the interviewing of candidates.
B3ut faculty and student leaders have voiced concerns that
their representation in an advisory capacity may not be
sufficient to ensure that their interests are considered.
"The structure is flexible in the sense that the regents can
involve the advisory committees to the extent that they want,"
said Harris McClamroch, chair of the faculty's Senate
Advisory Committee on University Affairs. "The regents can
make effective use of these committees, if they choose. They
could ignore them, if they choose."
Newblatt, also a Michigan Student Assembly
representative, agreed, "Students are never going to know what
the consideration was in the final decision. (The regents) could
listen to us and carefully consider our proposals and
recommendations, or they may not."
In 1978, MSA boycotted the original process for several
weeks until the regents were willing to grant the students an
advisory role. Members of the University's staff - non-
faculty employees - have requested formal input in the
Roach said the regents were unable to formulate a
mechanism to incorporate staff input. Unlike the faculty,
students, and alumni, staff members have no central governing
body to appoint committee members.
The advisory committee system and the solicitation of
individual comments have opened the discussion - if not the
actual decision - to participation from most sectors of the
"My job is fundraising and communication, so I want (the
president) to be someone who is a good fundraiser and
communicator," said Vice President for Development and
Communication Jon Cosovich. "Henry Johnson wants
someone who understands what students' problems are, and
(Vice President for Resea
who is interested in researc
"We're looking for s
capacity," Cosovich said.
that's kind of hard to fi
strengths and weaknesses."
According to Kennedy
ten presidents has had cert
for the position at that pa
had the economic dexterit:
period of financial hardship
Fleming, Kennedy saic
especially equipped to deal
student protests during the
According to Kennedy, f
"a deeply scholarly and p
the state and the Universit'
the entire higher education
"In the next little whil
enormous technological cha
will be someone who under
University in its leadership
using tools for itself and to
Kennedy and Cosovich a
vital to sustaining both sta
but neither anticipated any
donation campaign or relati
"I don't anticipate t
significantly under a new p
a momentum that has been
will go on regardless of the
Chief Financial Officer
in the drive for alumni
slowdown in gifts when S
the new president will be
donors... there will be an
doesn't mean there will be :
Brinkerhoff - who h
presidents than any othe
"changing of the guard" is a
"One thing other peopl
building tend to forget is
very effectively for some
blow up," he said. "The ess
in the classrooms and the fa
Robin Jacoby, an aide t
does not play a critical role
administration is to facilit
Jacoby said Shapiro
executive officers on in
administrators will researc
and develop recommendatic
"(The president) has tc
whether he agrees with th
something else," Jacoby s
decides on his own. What c
"(Shapiro) has the abil
ideas, opinions, and viewj
acknowledge, but which I
Susan Lipschutz, a former
In his remaining four r
says he will remain acti'
community. But top admini
begin any new programs or
"We all understand t
months," Cosovich said.
decisions he understands a
successors." Cosovich cite(
code of non-academic cond
remain on hold.
"His time here is going
things he has set in me
projects," Jacoby agreed. "1
to happen at the University
just that he won't be exer
projects as he has."
... led the University through a period
of rapid expansion
Sevetson is a Daily staffer
WEEKEND/SEPTEMBER 18, 1987