Presidential Search Committee to replace Tilghman unveils website, plans for public comment
The website has a survey that asks respondents what the University should look for in its 20th president. The four questions ask for general qualities the next president should exhibit but also solicit the names of specific candidates to lead the University. The website also lists the 17 members of the search committee with accompanying biographies.
“[The website] asks about what people are thinking about major challenges facing Princeton over the next decade or so, what kind of characteristics they think are important in a new president, whether they have specific candidates to suggest and whether there’s anything else they want the search committee to take into account,” University Vice President and Secretary Robert Durkee ’69, who is staffing the search committee, said in an interview previewing the rollout.
The site also asks for identifying information about the respondent, such as any affiliations with the University and biographical information.
Each search committee member will have access to the website and will be individually responsible for looking at the suggestions on their own time. Durkee said he was “quite confident that the members of this committee will be doing their homework” and will take the survey responses into consideration.
Some members of the search committee will also take part in public forums, the first of which will be at the upcoming Council of the Princeton University Community meeting on Nov. 12. That night, the committee will host an open forum for members of the community. According to the website, the search committee will hold other open forums and meetings both on and off campus in the months to come.
“However you want to communicate, whether it’s in writing or coming and speaking, you’ll be able to do that, and you’ll know how to find the website and when the meetings are taking place,” Durkee said.
The committee, which expects to recommend a candidate to the full University Board of Trustees by late March or early April, met for the first time this past Saturday.
According to Durkee, the committee devoted this past weekend’s meeting almost entirely to deciding how best to gather thoughts, ideas and feedback from the community. He described the next few months as an “information gathering” stage. Eventually this committee will enter a later stage, when the search committee narrows down the list of potential candidates and begins to consider its recommendation, but the committee has not yet discussed details about these later steps, Durkee said.
The search committee also decided this weekend that Brent Henry ’69, who served on the search committee that chose Tilghman, will serve as the vice chair of the committee. Henry, who is also the vice chair of the board of trustees, will serve under Kathryn Hall ’80, who is leading the search and is the chair of the board.
Durkee also again said that confidentiality is of the utmost importance to the success of the committee’s search and that he would be unable to share details of the search committee’s internal workings and processes going forward.
“In our experience, these kinds of discussions work best if everyone around the table feels perfectly free to say whatever they feel the need to say ... without any expectation that somehow this is going to be described on the outside,” Durkee said. “There’s not much more to say at this point, and there probably won’t be as we go along.”