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November 08, 1996 - Image 12

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1996-11-08

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12 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, November 8, 1996


res1 enta


Former presidents s
perfect choice to tal
R IJdi S. C U l Sf{ RepoE

The University was in a funk a year ago.
An active, hands-on president had abruptly resigned
and the regents needed to pick a new president totally in
the public's view. It was crunch time - interim President
Homer Neal didn't want to fill in for long and the
University needed permanent leadership.
The University has had only I I presidents since it was
established in 1817 and picking the 12th would be a his-
toric decision.
"You really could have predicted disaster," said
University historian Nicholas Steneck, a history profes-
sor. "It is another example where the University of
Michigan has risen to the challenge."
On Tuesday, the Board of Regents pulled through and,
after only minor opposition from two regents, Dartmouth
Provost Lee Bollinger was unanimously chosen as the
next University president.
Each former president - from Henry Tappan to James
Duderstadt - left a legacy of being "the right person at
the right time," regents said during their search.
"One of the fascinating things about Michigan presi-
dents is that they all seem to fit the challenges of their
time," Duderstadt said yesterday.
Bollinger, 50, can warm a room with his youthful pres-
ence and charisma. When he was the University's Law
School dean from 1987-1994, his light-colored hair
brought him the nickname "Dean Sundance."
Duderstadt said many believe Bollinger looks like actor
Robert Redford.
What will the movie star look-a-like bring to the
University and why was he chosen for the presidency ?
"It's hard to say what Lee Bollinger's mission for the
University will be," Duderstadt said. "He is an individual
of immense skills - wisdom, integrity, courage. He is a
genuinely really nice guy. And that goes a long way."
Faculty, students, alums and administrators rattled off
superlatives to describe Bollinger after hearing about the
selection Tuesday. Words like "intelligent," confident,"
"inspiring," "listener," "energetic," and "leader" rang
throughout campus earlier this week after the board
announced its selection.
The University's former pres-
idents use similar praiseworthy
adjectives when speaking about
their successor.
"He knows, loves the
University of Michigan, and he's
a man of such exceptional intel-
ligence, that he even has kind of
a touch of eloquence to him and
a rare understanding that very
few people can bring to it," said
former President Harlan
Hatcher, now 98 years old.
Former President Harold
Shapiro, who led the maize and
blue from 1980-1987 and is now
president at Princeton University,
said Bollinger is lucky for the
chance to lead the University.
"He's fortunate. It's a great Robben Fleming
opportunity for him," Shapiro
said. "The University is also extremely fortunate."
While Duderstadt said Bollinger "always looks about
10-15 years younger than he is," the stresses and chal-
lenges of leading the University are bound to make him
age quicker.
However, some of his personal qualities will help him
face the upcoming challenges in higher education, said
the last three University presidents.

Bollinger has another
quality crucial for lead-
ing the University: a
deep love for the insti-
tution and its traditions,
which became apparent
during his daylong cam-
pus visit as a finalist.
His ease in express-
ing this love - from a
quick mention of
Espresso Royale Caffe
to a description about
the University's unique
role as a large, public
institution - will likely
boost campus pride.
During his public
interview and town-hall
style community meet-
ing, Bollinger stressed
the need for the
University to grow
"That fact that
Bollinger has stressed
again and again that he
wants to be an academ-
ic president will mean
that he will focus more
on academic aspects,"
Steneck said.

Photo courtesy of News ard Information Services

Former University President James Duderstadt looks at one of the hallmarks of his tenure, the University's technology.

Former President
Robben Fleming, who served from 1968-1979, described
Bollinger as a "guy of great personal integrity."
"He cares about people, and that includes students and
faculty and regents and other people," Fleming said.
"He'll be concerned for all the constituencies."
Steneck said Bollinger might take a "lower key
approach" to the presidency as compared to Duderstadt,
who had a very hands-on style.
"Jim was a very activist
president in what he want-
ed to do," Steneck said.
"Often after a period of
aggressive leadership, you
move into a period where
you try to consolidate and
Evolution and
In the next few years,
rapid change from the elec-
tronic revolution will
inevitably alter universities
and their role in society.
Hatcher said the
University needs
Bollinger's personality to
keep it moving and keep it Harlan Hatcher
"Bollinger will be a good leader in a world where
things change rapidly and unpredictably," said Hatcher,
who served from 1951-1968.
"We're in constant change, in so many ways, and I
think he has a very firm understanding of all those
things," Hatcher added.
The University is extensively different from when
Hatcher sat on the University's throne -- for one, there has
been a "marvelous transformation" in focusing on under-
graduate education, Hatcher said.
Coming from the provost position at Dartmouth
College, an institution recognized for its pre-eminent
undergraduate education, Bollinger will likely
bring his strong commitment back to the
In addition to strengthening undergraduate
education, Duderstadt said the next president
needs to focus on "rearticulating how the
University relates to our broader society."
Since the University is currently financially
strong and becoming more diverse, it must fulfill
its public mission to the state, nation and world.
Duderstadt said there also needs to be an "intel-
lectual evolution" in which the University
becomes a more exciting place.
Duderstadt said Bollinger can lead during this
M: time of evolution and revolution.

Shapiro said he's seen many presidents come into top
universities across the country, but Bollinger stands apart
from the rest.
"There are very few that I'd put in Lee's category,
Shapiro said.
Duderstadt warned Bollinger to take past presidents'
advice with a grain of salt.
"He has to find out what his own particular goals and
objectives are during his period
of leadership," Duderstadt said.
"It is important that he not be
too persuaded or channeled by
people he knows from the past."
Duderstadt said as much as
Bollinger's personality will
shape the presidency and the
- University, the changing times
will also influence Bollinger's
".r:"The times make the person
as much as the person makes
the times," Duderstadt said.
"The institution has a way of
shaping you.
A smooth transition
Bollinger, the finalist with the
closest ties -to the University,
can to hit the ground running -
an ability the regents cited when endorsing Bollinger.
During a dinner with regents while on campus for the
public interview, Bollinger said it will be crucial to form a
strong executive officer team as quickly as possible.
"People who are presidents have their own styles and
their own capacities, and they have to know how to find
other people to do the things they can't do so well,"
Hatcher said.
Duderstadt also instructed Bollinger to "recruit an
outstanding officer team."
"With a strong team, everything else will work,"
Duderstadt said.
All three past presidents said
Bollinger will bring
something spe-
cial to the
"I think he'll
be absolutely stupen-
dous," Shapiro said.
"He'd be a great president
of any university in this
country. They don't come
any better."..
Shapiro said Bollinger. ......
is ready to return to his:
home, Ann Arbor.
But as excited as he'll be,
Shapiro said, "The University.
community ought to be even
more ecstatic."
- Daily Staff Reporter Jeff
Eldridge contributed to
this report.

Bolli*nger' sselection
unli~ke those before~
The search process used to choose the 12th University president was by
no means a common way to pick a leader.
It was perhaps the most open presidential search in the history of higher
education and one in which the candidates couldn't speak to members of
the Board of Regents privately.
At least one former University president said he wouldn't have gone
through it.
"I wouldn't have gone through a process like this under any circu
stance, whether I was on campus or off," said former University Presiden
James Duderstadt, who was provost when chosen for the top post.
"The process the board was constrained to is the most restrictive and
intrusive in the history of higher education in America," Duderstadt said.
Former President Harold Shapiro said he wasn't sure if he would have
allowed himself to be considered under the process used.
"It's hard to imagine these things in the abstract," Shapiro said about the
process that resulted in the recent selection of Dartmouth Provost Lee
The state's Open Meetings Act, which requires that the University pres-
ident be selected publicly, forced all candidates to agree to let their cand
dacy become public if they were finalists.
That limitation, along with a court decision that further restricted tihe
board, made it illegal for regents to talk privately with candidates, the
search advisory committee or between themselves.
"The regents have gotten through it and they should be congratulated."
said history Prof. Nicholas Steneck, who studies the University. "It wasn't
Duderstadt said the state laws, along with the court's interpretation of
the laws, need to be challenged either in the courts or in the state
"The Michigan Open Meetings Act as interpreted by the courts is a dis-
aster," Duderstadt said. "I believe it will, over time, slowly and method'
cally destroy the leadership of every university in the state."
Former President Robben Fleming said the University succeeded in
choosing an excellent president despite the process, but
that the board shouldn't expect to be so lucky in future
presidential searches.
"I think they did (succeed) in spite of the procedure. The
reason is, however, that they had a superb internal candidate in Lee
Bollinger," Fleming said about the University's former Law School
dean. "It's a ridiculous procedure to say that a board of any kind can-
not speak privately amongst themselves about the candidates."
Steneck said the University is "fortunate we got an excellent ca
"If there hadn't been a Bollinger, they would have had a hard time
getting close to the other candidates to have the same confidence,"
Steneck said, noting the advantage the process created for an inter-
nal candidate.
Before it's time again for the University to pick its
13th president, some people have expressed
hope that the laws and Supreme Court
interpretation will have changed.
"People around the rest of the coun-
try think we're crazy," Dudersta



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