April 28, 2003

Dean search now in its final phase

By Michael Terrazas

President Bill Chace should have before him a recommendation for the next dean of Emory College sometime this week, according to the chair of the position’s search committee.

The three finalists for the position are William Brustein, professor of sociology and director of the Center for International Studies at the University of Pittsburgh; Bernadette Gray-Little, professor of psychology and executive associate provost at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and Bobby Paul, interim dean of the college and Charles Howard Candler Professor of Anthropol-ogy and Interdisciplinary Studies.

Elaine Walker, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Psychology and chair of the search committee, said the site visits of all the finalists “went beautifully.” Brustein was on campus April 7–8, Gray-Little April 10–11, and Paul held his “campus visit” last week, April 21–22.

“All the candidates were very well received, and that reception indicates we’ve identified three very competent, well-qualified people,” Walker said.

Each individual met with more than 100 people during the site visit, Walker estimated, from open meetings with faculty to individual meetings with administrators, to meetings with the departments in which the person would have his or her main academic appointment.

“Data gathering on these individuals is in its most heated phase right now,” said Walker, adding that she was receiving prodigious amounts of e-mail and phone calls offering opinions on the candidates. “Un-doubtedly there will pros and cons of each candidate and a wide range of opinion, but I also think a consensus will clearly emerge.”

Presidential search

Having spent most of the semester canvassing all manner of Emory constituent groups for their views on the direction of the University and the best person to lead it, the Presidential Search Committee now is sifting through the pile of names it has as possibilities for the job.

That word—“names”—is important, as at this stage in the search, the difference between a “name” and a “candidate” is definite and distinct.

“Some of the names we’ve looked at certainly have never considered themselves ‘candidates’ and have only been suggested to us as people we ought to be looking at,” said Board of Trustees Chair Ben Johnson, who chairs the search committee.

Johnson said the list of names is “well over 100” and includes certain presidents and provosts of Association of American Universities (AAU) schools; presidents of smaller liberal arts colleges; deans of prominent schools or colleges within larger universities; and even “alternative candidates” who may not currently be in a university setting at all.

Johnson also acknowledged that some names on the list are of people already employed at Emory.

Right now the two outside firms employed for the search—Spenser Stuart and the Washington Advisory Group—are investigating the interest of the individuals on the committee’s list and assembling dossiers on those who indicate they would like to be considered. The search committee has earmarked an expanse of time in late May/ early June during which it hopes to have face-to-face interviews with candidates.

Some faculty have expressed the desire for open meetings to be held with finalists for the Emory presidency, but at this point, Johnson said, it’s too early to tell whether that will be possible. Some candidates—a president at another prominent AAU institution, for example—could be understandably concerned that public candidacy for the presidency of another school could be damaging at his or her home institution.

“That ultimately is a question of the strength of a confidential candidate and how the committee responds to the request for confidentiality,” Johnson said. “I’m not prepared to say at this point that we’re necessarily going to have open forums on campus where all candidates are submitted to the full glare of complete publicity; on the other hand, I can imagine a situation where you might have a group of candidates for whom confidentiality might not be so critical, and we might very well have open forums.”

The recently appointed Faculty Advisory Committee (FAC)—10 senior faculty, many of whom are current or former heads of University Senate and Faculty Council—could embody a compromise between confidentiality and transparency.

Woodruff Professor Luke Johnson, a member of the search committee, said the FAC has provided valuable input into the search committee’s work, just as other spring meetings with campus groups did.

“I’d like to emphasize how valuable that first stage has been,” Luke Johnson said. “The search committee received the benefits of extraordinarily candid and useful conversation across the University, and we are in a strong position to proceed.”