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November 09, 2001 - Image 10

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2001-11-09

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10A - The Michigan Daily - Friday, November 9, 2001



Former Business School Dean B. ioseph White, who will become interim president of the University on Jan. 1 after Lee Bollinger leaves for Columbia University, stands in the Business School lounge yesterday.





The Michigan Daily: What do you plan to
do as interim president? Do you have any plans
for what you want to see?
B. Joseph White: I'd like to tell you I'm
thinking about it and I have two more months to
think about it so I'm in the early stages.
First I think it's important that I fully under-
stand that we maintain momentum on the key
initiatives of the Bollinger administration. Obvi-
ously that means the Life Sciences in all of its
dimensions. It means aggressive defense of this
institution in the affirmative action suits. It
means maintaining our commitment to culture
and the arts on campus. It means continuing to
focus on improving the quality of the undergrad-
uate experience at the University of Michigan.
Those are institutional commitments; they are
not personal commitments, by the president. So
I think my first responsibility is to ensure that
we follow through on, and maintain commitment
in, our institutional commitments.
The second thing is that I think a person in an
interim role always needs to have the goal of
handing off to his or her successor an organiza-
tion that is in the best possible condition, which
has not been weakened in any way by an interim
period of leadership, but rather, by contrast,
maintained its strengths, and in all the vital
areas, the quality of programs, the quality of
faculty, the quality of students, innovation, in all
what I call the vital signs of the University -
financial health being another example - all
the vital signs need to be very strong when the
time comes for the hand off.
Number three, and this is maybe the final
thing to offer you at this point: We're living in
troubled and troubling times and our campus is
not insulated from all that and I want our cam-
pus to be an excellent place for members of our
community during these troubled and troubling
times. I want it to be a community where people
are thinking deeply, where they're learning a lot
about the complexities of the situation that we
are facing. I want it to be a community where
people are engaging each other energetically and
also thoughtfully. I want it to be a community
that continues to be diverse and tolerant. I want
civility to prevail, and I want members of our
community to both be secure and safe and I
want them to feel secure and safe. So those are
the three things most on my mind as I approach
this job.
TMD: What do you plan to do in terms of
making people feel more secure and more safe
here? Do you plan to do some of the things like
President Bollinger did to open up your house?
BJW: I thought that was a wonderful thing to
do and it's certainly something that my wife and
I would do under similar circumstances. We do
intend to have students into the house. Exactly
when and in what format is something we have
to think about the next couple months, but one
of the things that she and I have always enjoyed
about being in the University community is hav-
ing that closeness with students, getting
acquainted with them personally, opening up our

the candlelight vigil. I think that's what you saw
when the president opened up his house. I know
it's what I felt immediately after the 11th of Sep-
tember. I lost friends in the World Trade Center.
I'm a trustee of mutual funds that were on the
93rd floor of One World Trade Center, and at a
time when it was not easy to get on airplanes, I
knew what I had to do, I had to be there with
And similarly, I mentioned my family in Eng-
land, my son-in-law and daughter and grandson.
Again, at a time when it wasn't easy to get on
planes, we had to be with them, because there's
just this need for closeness and human contact
and grieving together and looking ahead togeth-
So we need to create those opportunities for
the campus also. I actually think we're very for-
tunate to be members of this community during
this period of time. I think that we can provide
for each other a lot of opportunities for mutual
support and for learning and for comfort and for
safety. And I think the hardest thing during these
kinds of times is for people who live in isola-
tion, who live alone, who have nobody they're
close to. We're very fortunate to be members of
this community.

TMD: Have you made any decisions about
whether you'll consider this position permanently?
BJW: I haven't decided yet. I told the regents
and I want to say to you that we love this uni-
versity, my wife and I do. Our roots are very
deep here and so we're certainly open to the
The reason that we haven't made a decision
yet is that President Bollinger's departure is a
very recent development. I'm just in the first
three months of returning to faculty work, and
so what I'm now doing in serving as interim
president is a major diversion from the path I
was on.
If I were to decide to be a candidate, it would
be on the basis of, my presumption would be, 10
years of service; in the same way, it's exactly
how I thought about being dean of the Business
School. I just know for me, in a senior leader-
ship job, I need to think about a 10-year period
of service as required time to accomplish
enough, to accomplish things, and my wife and I
make our commitments carefully, as I told the
regents, we do our best to keep them faithfully,
and so she and I need to consider whether we're
prepared to make that commitment if I were
selected as the president.

"We love this University, m wife and I
do. Our roots are very deep here and so
we're certainly open to the possibility."
- B. Joseph White
When asked if he would consider becoming a candidate
for the position of University'president permanently

lievably interesting people whose view about
money is that one of its main purposes is to do
good things, not just to consume, but to educate
students and promote science and build a great
University here, so it's very satisfying work.
TMD: You were very instrumental in bringing
Madeleine Albright to the campus as a distin-
guished scholar Do you have any plans to bring
her, or any other globalfigures, into the Univer-
sity as a whole, or is she going to stay primarily
with the Davidson Institute?
BJW: First of all, I think that bringing to our
campus people of the stature and the achievements
of Madeleine Albright really enriches our campus
life. I would like to see more people - senior poli-
cy makers, public intellectuals - I would like to
see more such people on our campus.
From the beginning I have viewed Secretary
Albright as a campus resource, not as a Davidson
Institute or Business School resource. The David-
son Institute is her home base, but in her first week
with us, she did a number of things outside the
Business School, with the School of Public Policy;
for example, with the International Institute, she
went to the inauguration of the European Union
center, over at the Law School. We did a lunch for
her at the president's house with 18 or 20 people
from all across campus, so I think both for our
benefit and for hers we need to think about the
entire University community as her domain. I think
that's what she expects and wants, and I would
hope it would be the same for other distinguished
people who come to our campus.
I don't think any school or college should
heard such people. I think these should be peo-
ple who are here to enrich the entire campus
experience. I asked her to do the McInally Lec-
ture here at the Business School here in the first
week, because I wanted to make sure there was
an opportunity for hundreds and hundreds of
people to hear her and pose questions to her and
I think we had - ordinarily we have about 400,
people for the McInally Lecture - I think we
had about 800 people. They were in breakout
rooms where we were videocasting in addition
to being in Hill Auditorium. So campuswide
resource is the way I think about it.
TMD: Are there any actions made by
Bollinger that you definitely want to uphold and
are there any that you specifically want to
BJW: I think at this stage, with my being very
recently appointed, the only thing that's clear to
me is what I said to you in the beginning and that
is that the University's key initiatives are institu-
tional initiative on which we need to follow
through aggressively and maintain our momen-
tum. That's really as far as my thinking is going.
TMD: Will the provost search be put on hold
until the presidential post is sorted out?
BJW: I haven't fully decided what to do, but
here is the situation.... I think that we ought to
remain in the interim provost mode during the
period that I'm interim president and I think the
raosfor that are Aobvious.


TMD: What kind of priority are you going to
give the LSI? Has any of the faculty given you
any suggestions on how to deal with the LSI?
BJW: I intend that we will maintain and
build momentum on the development of the
Life Sciences Institute and related programs.
These are institutional commitments of the
University of Michigan and we keep our
One of my first visits after being appointed
interim president was with Jack Dixon in his
office to get a full briefing on the current state
of development of LSI and to inquire how I
could help in the months ahead.
TMD: What do you think about the undergrad-
uate commissions findings? Do you plan to get
a head start on some of the recommendations?
Have you gotten any feedback from students or
faculty on the report?
BJW: Regarding the undergraduate commis-
sion's findings, I have reviewed two summaries
of the report, one written by one of you at the
Daily. I find much to commend here, beginning
with the reiteration of our commitment to excel-
lence in undergraduate education as a core ele-
m n ofnr n-.cecnr nt -Iathe nivers~ityof

TMD: You were one of the great leaders in
getting donations for the Business School and
for the University. Will you go about getting
donations in the same way for the University as
a whole?
BJW: Our next fundraising campaign is cru-
cial to the state of the University and we need
to stay on track and on schedule and launch it
as planned. Most of the fundraising in the Uni-
versity is really done by deans of the schools
and colleges. I think the president's role is pri-
marily a support role to those deans and direc-
tors, people who have responsibility for
particular units. I think the president's main job
is to support them in a variety of ways in their
fundraising efforts.
I think there are some gifts to the University,
which because of their purpose, perhaps theyre
for one of the University's key initiates, like the
Life Sciences, so perhaps because of the pur-
pose of the gift, perhaps because of the size of
the gift, the president needs to be deeply
involved and perhaps the president even needs to
take the lead.
You've been very kind to say that I've been
recognized for success in fundraising, but I have
to~ tP11 vn n ~ ina T idn't rake.a ciicle AA1l-


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