Finalists vie for dean position

by Kelly Wittman

During the next few weeks, six educators will be undergoing a final exam of their own.
By June 7, all six candidates for the deanship of the College of Liberal Arts will have participated in a rigorous process of interviews with students, faculty and staff members. The candidates’ visits to campus last three days each. Their schedules include a half-hour public presentation with a question-and-answer session. All University community members can attend the forums.
The dean search got underway in January when it was announced that former CLA Dean Julia Davis’ contract would not be renewed when it expired in June. Davis subsequently left her position early.
At the beginning of May, a committee of faculty, an undergraduate student and one alumni representative named six candidates as finalists. They were chosen from 78 applicants after a nationwide search.
The candidates are: Steven Rosenstone, director of the University of Michigan’s Center for Political Studies; Stuart McDougal, director of comparative literature at the University of Michigan; Edwin Fogelman, University of Minnesota political science department chairman; University of Pennsylvania Vice Provost Janice Madden; Radcliffe College Vice President Barbara Nelson; and Richard Leppert, chairman of cultural studies and comparative literature at the University of Minnesota.
Linda Ellinger, associate to Arts, Sciences and Engineering Provost W. Phillips Shively, has been coordinating the interview process. She said the open forums have been well-attended so far. The schedule for the candidates while they are in town is tight, she added. Interviews start with breakfast meetings and continue throughout the day and even into evening.
The CLA usually uses an open process in selecting deans to ensure that the candidate meets with as many members of the University community as possible, Ellinger said. The last time the school used this type of process was in 1991.
This is a high-pressure procedure, Ellinger said. By the end of the visit the candidates are tired. But, she added, “This is a two-way decision point.” While the University is evaluating the applicant, the candidate is also evaluating the University, she said.
“I’m totally in favor of the openness of the process,” said Stuart McDougal, dean candidate and director of the program in comparative literature at the University of Michigan. At Michigan, McDougal said, the whole process would be held in private, and only when the choice was made would the university community be notified.
Even though the process is exhausting, McDougal said, the search process has given him the opportunity to hear from a wide range of people on many different issues.
Shively has the final say on who will step into the presently vacant shoes of CLA dean. Ellinger said Shively will take into account the recommendations of all groups who meet with the candidates before making his final decision.
Shively expects to make his decision shortly after the last of the interviews, Ellinger said. But negotiations with the candidate and the possibility that a second look at a candidate may be necessary could slow down the announcement of the new dean, she added.
She said the new dean’s appointment will be announced around July 1. It would be “marvelous” if the new dean could start next fall, she said, but the chosen candidate may already have commitments for the fall and be unable to assume the new position. Whether the new dean is internal or external could also affect when the new dean starts, Ellinger said.
Steve Bosacker, executive director for the Board of Regents, said that after Shively has recommended a candidate, University President Nils Hasselmo and the regents will have to approve the choice. The recommended candidate must pass muster with the regents’ Faculty, Staff, and Student Affairs Committee. The candidates who administrators recommend to regents are rarely turned down, he said.