July 1, 1997
It will be perhaps the most important decision to be made on campus in nearly two decades. Who will be the next president of Tulane University? When Eamon Kelly, who has led the university since 1980, announced his decision to retire from the presidency, he set into motion the long and arduous process of selecting his successor.
That process is fully under way this summer as a committee comprising members of the Tulane Board of Administrators, faculty and students work with a hired search consultant to put together a list of viable candidates for the position.
"We are currently advertising and soliciting nominations," said Catherine Pierson, a board member and chair of the search committee. "We should have a good number of nominations by the end of the summer."
Pierson, who was invited to head the search committee by board chairman Hon. John G. Weinmann, encouraged all members of the Tulane community to take an active interest in the selection process. "A letter with an enclosed response card has been sent from the search committee to all faculty and staff," said Pierson. "We would like as much input as people can give; it is important that everybody in the university participates."
According to Pierson, the first decision by the search committee, which was formed in March, was to interview for and hire a search consultant. After interviewing four firms, the committee hired the search consultants of Korn-Ferry in April. Bill Funk, the company's premier educational consultant, was assigned to work with Tulane, said Pierson. Funk spent three days in April and May interviewing board members, senior faculty and alumni representatives.
"He wanted to know what kind of president we were looking for, what were the strengths of Tulane and what was our vision for the university," said Pierson. "He distilled his interviews into several reports but he made two primary observations. The first is that there is really a profound affection for Tulane--people generally like being at Tulane and they like what they do. The second is a concern for resources. Do we have sufficient resources and how do we continue to develop new resources?"
Funk's survey revealed that perhaps the most important quality for the next president is the ability to develop a vision for Tulane, said Pierson. "Dr. Kelly has accomplished much at Tulane that will make the committee's job easier," said Pierson. "Tulane is poised to move to the next level of greatness and we are looking for a leader who can guide us there."
Pierson said the committee is not operating under a firm deadline but hopes to begin sifting through nominations in early fall. "We would like to have a final group of candidates to present to the board of administrators in November," she said.
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