Presidential search yields over 100 nominees

by Brandon Butler

More than 100 people have been nominated to assume GW's top post after University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg steps down in July 2007.

James Ferrare, a consultant with Academic Search Consultation Services - the private firm the University hired to aid in the search - said 102 names have already been suggested for the position, while many searches for vacancies in higher education only yield about 50 names.

"I am very happy with the response to the field of applicants," Ferrare said in an interview after his presentation at the Board of Trustees meeting Friday. "There certainly is a lot of interest."

"We thought it would be an attractive position based on the success of this administration," he said. "It has exceeded our expectations."

The University said it will not release the names of any candidates or nominees until later in the process. Ferrare said there is no official timeline of when a new president will be chosen. The committee is required, however, to pass nominees on to the full board by January, according to the search's Web site.

Chair of the Presidential Search Committee W. Russell Ramsey, who is also vice chairman of the Board of Trustees, said he is pleased with the way the search is going.

"Every single stage of this search has been above my expectations," Ramsey told the board. "Soon we will have a leader come in who will have a very big stamp on the future of this University."

Trachtenberg announced in April that he would be stepping down as the University's top administrator in July 2007.

Last spring the Board of Trustees, the University's highest-governing body, created a 14-member presidential search committee. Ramsey was appointed the chair of the committee, and in July 2006 the committee hired D.C.-based Academic Search Consultation Services to aid in the search.

Ramsey said he hopes to send final candidates to the full board by January 2007. The board will then choose the next University president.The search committee consists of nine trustees, three University faculty members, the president of the Alumni Association and the Student Association president.

"The process has been fun for us as a firm to reach out to the GW community," said Ferrare, president of the search firm that has five members working on GW's search.

The firm is in the process of compiling a list of possible candidates and "taking a good look at the pool," Ferrare said.

Using national advertising in such magazines as the Chronicle of Higher Education, Black Issues, Hispanic Outlook and Inside Higher Ed, the search firm is compiling a list of nominees which will be passed onto the search committee within a month. The committee will then narrow the nominees down to a handful of candidates.

Ferrare said he is very pleased with the popularity of the job and called the pool of nominees a "rich and diverse" one.

Manatt said the search is being run "first class" and said he is pleased with the progress of the committee.

Similarly, Trachtenberg, who is not on the search committee, said the process is running "splendidly" and called the vacancy "the hottest job in American higher education in 2006."

Other major schools also searching for a new president include Harvard and Wellesley universities.

"People across all aspects of higher education can see how they would be able to add value at GW," he said. "That is less obvious than a place like Harvard."

Nelson Carbonell is the vice chair of the search committee and said he too is pleased with the process thus far.

"It's going really well," Carbonell said after the board's meeting in which he was nominated to be the body's newest vice chairman.

"At this point, we really want to look and see if the committee and the firm are working well," he said. "From all accounts they are."

Last month Carbonell was involved in hosting a series of vision forums, or town hall meetings, with various GW community constituents. Carbonell said he enjoyed engaging with students, alumni and faculty and hearing input about the search process and the future of the University.

While listening to other people's thoughts on the new president, he said he better defined his ideal candidate for the job.

"The most important characteristic to me is going to be someone who operates openly and collaboratively and is able to lead from that perspective," he said.

Carbonell said the search committee has met about four times so far.

The official charge of the search committee as stated on the search's Web site says it is looking for "a proven leader to be President of a dynamic research university that has grown in size and prestige."

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