Presidential search committee set to begin work


The newly formed, 18-member presidential advisory search committee will soon begin its quest for UTD’s next leader.

First on the agenda at the Jan. 26 meeting will be the contract of an executive search firm and the approval of an advertisement to solicit a new UTD president.

The search committee will be responsible for proposing and interviewing possible candidates to succeed President Franklyn Jenifer, who announced his resignation in early October. The ultimate decision though, will rest in the hands of the UT System Board of Regents.

The committee is comprised of two regents, two UT System presidents, the UT System chancellor and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, three faculty members, one dean, one student, the president of the Alumni Association, one non-faculty employee and five community representatives.

An executive search firm will be selected from the six that are currently being reviewed, said Robert Nelsen, associate professor of creative writing and the UTD faculty representative for the search committee.

The selected executive search firm will aid the committee by contacting potential candidates the committee wishes to consider.

According to an Oct. 2 UTD news release, Mark Yudof, chancellor for the UT System and search committee member, said that he and the regents “hope to have Jenifer’s successor in place by August 2004.”

The timeline for the search estimates seven months searching for candidates and three months narrowing down the finalists before announcing the new president.

“We will broadcast (the search) as widely as we possibly can,” Nelsen said.

Faculty representatives have also begun gathering names of possible candidates.

“I have already let people I know around the country that the search is taking place,” said Bert Moore, dean of the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences and representative for the UTD Dean’s Council on the committee.

In an advertisement to be placed in The Chronicle of Higher Education, the search committee will seek candidates with qualities such as, “major academic and scholarly experience and ability to raise money and bring us forward to the next level with prestige,” Nelsen said.

Candidates will be evaluated for their administrative experience, familiarity with the university administration and ability to work with the legislature and UT System, Moore said. The committee hopes the candidate will be an effective voice in the external community, while possessing administrative experience, academic vision and fund raising capabilities.

“We will attempt to match someone who can understand the unique characteristics of UTD,” Moore added.

“We want someone who has experience in fund raising, because as we grow to the next level of excellence we’re going to need funding,” said Betty Loy, program manager for The Callier Center and a UTD staff representative on the committee. “Someone who is educated, personable, cares about students and community and is business wise yet cares about the people who make up the university.”

Nelsen added that there will be a push by community leaders aiming for specific qualities.

“Every presidential appointment is a critical one. This is a critical juncture because the next few years are essential to the development (of UTD),” Moore said. “The president is very distant to the students but their lives are impacted by the decision.”

Confidentiality, though, will make the process “maximally productive” Moore said. “Of the candidates we want, most will already hold senior positions at other universities and don’t want to compromise their situation.”

Moore said he is also looking for candidates with familiarity in science, engineering and research and who can “seriously relate to students and students’ concerns.”

“I want someone who is funny,” he said. “Someone who has a sense of humor, balance and can communicate with faculty and students.”


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