Website for presidential search adds voting function
Princetonpresident.com, a website created by visiting professor Mark Alexander and his American Studies seminar AMS 313: The Law of Democracy to gather suggestions regarding the presidential search process, now has an added voting component offering students the chance to choose from among five candidates identified by the class as the strongest and most popular choices to replace outgoing University president Shirley Tilghman.
Though the website initially gave users a chance to suggest qualities they would like to see in the next president as well as suggest specific candidates, the new relaunched version now lets users vote for one of five candidates: University professors Harvey Rosen, William Gleason, Anne-Marie Slaughter ’80, University Provost Christopher Eisgruber ’83 and Dean of New York University School of Law Richard Revesz ’79.
Slaughter and Eisgruber have been mentioned repeatedly as possible candidates to replace Tilghman. Both said they were honored to have been mentioned as candidates but ultimately declined to comment for this article.
From 2003 to 2005, Rosen served on President George Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers, first as a member and then later as its chair. Rosen was also the inaugural master of Whitman College. Gleason, meanwhile, is the chair of the English department, though he is on leave for this semester.
Revesz was the only candidate identified by Alexander’s class who is not currently working at the University. As dean of NYU’s law school, he has increased the size of the faculty and conducted a significant amount of fundraising. On Oct. 24, Revesz stated his intention to step down as dean on May 30, telling the media at the time of the announcement that he plans to remain a faculty member at NYU afterwards.
Revesz, Gleason and Rosen did not immediately return requests for comment.
Alexander said his class identified their five final candidates by aggregating user suggestions and identifying the most commonly suggested individuals. He said the website has had “dozens” of submissions and about 1,000 unique page views.
After the most popular candidates were identified, the class then compared these contenders with a list of qualities and qualifications the class believed the future president should possess. This list — now published on the website — is a combination of user suggestions on the website and the class’ own internally debated ideas.
The qualities and qualifications Alexander’s class identified were, among other things, “proven leadership,” “relateability,” “academic administrative ability,” “business acumen,” “a sense of direction for Princeton” and an “ability to deal with the various University constituencies.”
According to Alexander, much of the inspiration for the website’s change from open-ended suggestion gathering to vote gathering for specific candidates came from this month’s class meeting with University Vice President and Secretary Robert Durkee ’69, who is staffing the search committee. Alexander said their talk with Durkee helped them understand how they could most effectively interact with the committee going forward.
Durkee said his visit to the class produced an “interesting conversation” but cautioned there was no special relationship between Alexander’s class and the search committee whatsoever. Durkee did say he would welcome the class’ suggestions in the future but noted this was no different than the search committee’s concerted effort to gather comments and ideas from all members of the Princeton community over the past month or so.
The official search committee website has received 258 comments as of Tuesday evening. The University reportedly attempted to shut down the website made by Alexander’s class earlier this semester.
Alexander said he and his class will be publishing the voting results in the future and that they also hope to share their eventual findings with the search committee. Though the end of the semester is coming, Alexander said he believes he and his class will remain involved in the search process until its end. Alexander added he feels his class’ project has been a success.
“I am so proud of my students. They have done a remarkable job,” Alexander said.