Forums Allow Faculty to Share Preferences for Next President Trustees, faculty agree Richardson tough act to follow By Lisa Mastny and Mike Field At recent meetings with the presidential search committee, Hopkins faculty expressed interest in finding a candidate with a high degree of intellectual leadership and vision as the search for President William C. Richardson's successor begins. Faculty made their suggestions at simultaneous forums held Feb. 13 at the East Baltimore and Homewood campuses. Fifteen faculty members, mostly from the School of Engineering, met at Homewood amid a small protest by students who want more undergraduate representation on the search committee and a greater role in the committee selection process. Freshman class president Joey Crawford is one of three students--but the only undergraduate--selected by board of trustees chairman Morris W. Offit to serve on the committee. Led by trustee Michael Bloomberg, committee members at the Homewood meeting heard from faculty primarily about issues of delegation and administrative leadership. Many praised Dr. Richardson for surrounding himself with an excellent administration that could run the university smoothly even when the president was away. "Bill Richardson was a great administrator, and one of the things a good administrator does is they put in place an organization that survives themselves," Bloomberg said. "He put good people in place, and that's what I hope would make it more attractive for somebody else to come." Members of the search committee also urged the faculty not to overlook the president's role as chief fund-raiser for the university, a job that will become increasingly important as universities nationwide continue to be hard hit from reductions in federal and state support. "Anybody that's going to give big money will want to talk to the president," Bloomberg said. "He's the most effective fund-raiser you have." The candidate should also have some experience in dealing with the government, the committee indicated. Not only does the university receive approximately two-thirds of its revenue from the federal government, but it also receives aid from the state of Maryland and deals with the mayor and Baltimore city officials at the local level. While many faculty members understood the president's role in administration and management, there was debate over whether these skills should remain secondary to the demonstration of intellectual leadership and vision. "I think the most important qualification for a president is that he truly be intellectually excited about things in general," biology professor Doug Fambrough said. "You need someone who can articulate that excitement and in doing so keep the rest of us excited about being here. That's the key issue." Other members of the audience suggested that the committee search for someone abreast of changing technology, aware of important informational resources such as the library, and in tune with faculty pressures such as the academic tug-of-war between research and teaching. "The undergraduates are here because of the teaching. The research money comes because of the research abilities of the faculty. As much here as anywhere, you have to remember that the faculty are the strength of the institution," associate professor of mechanical engineering Andrew Douglas said. Others admired Dr. Richardson for his ability to remain accessible and friendly to faculty, and hoped the committee would keep this characteristic in mind while conducting their search for his replacement. "From my own experience, Bill had a really good sense of what was important on a personal level and put those feelings down into the very depths of the institution," said Nick Jones, associate professor of civil engineering. At the East Baltimore meeting that attracted about 20 faculty members, board of trustees chairman Morris W. Offit and other members of the search committee heard that the ideal candidate should possess a strong background in the health sciences, in addition to a proven track record in fund raising. "We need enormous capabilities across a broad range," Offit said. "We are looking for someone with a feeling for finance as well as educational distinction. The candidate doesn't have to be a Nobel laureate, but has to be someone the faculty will respect. The key characteristics are strength, stamina, intellectual depth and enormous integrity." Several audience members also raised the issue of governance of the School of Medicine since its faculty members work within both the hospital and the university environments. Trustee George Bunting expressed confidence the issue would be resolved in time to present the final presidential candidates with a clearer understand-ing of the relationship between School of Medicine faculty and the hospital in future years. Near the end of the 45-minute gathering, a faculty member said she had heard through "the rumor mill" that the committee is looking primarily for a candidate with a strong business background. "I don't know where that came from," replied Offit. "We'd be happy to find someone with a blended background, but we're not looking just for a business background. The key word is leadership. That's what we're looking for." Once the search committee agrees on the qualifications sought in the new president, it will begin reviewing recommendations and eventually compile a short list of five to 10 potential candidates. While the committee expects to attract the bulk of its candidates by word of mouth, advertisements for the position have been placed in such publications as the "Chronicle of Higher Education" and "The Economist," Bloomberg said.
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