Staff Editorial: Choosing the best person for GW’s top position

It is the end of an era and the greatest of institutional responsibilities.

This school year marks a career’s end for one of the most influential figures in GW’s history. As University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg retires from 19 years of service as GW’s top administrator, the Presidential Search Committee embarks on the daunting task of finding the best replacement for this institution.

In an ongoing editorial series, this page will ponder some of the fundamental issues the search committee must consider in considering a new president. As one of the most-coveted University presidencies this year, there exists no reason for the committee to settle for mediocrity in a candidate, or to pick a candidate with stellar credentials but the wrong approach for the University’s unique needs.

The editorial board will enumerate key considerations for the selection of Trachtenberg’s successor, including his/her background, experience and character; the personality to adapt to and modify GW culture for the better; support of an independent campus media; a vision for a GW community united under one common academic mission and the ability to build on Trachtenberg’s legacy of development with academic greatness in addition to bricks and mortar.

Students seeking to go forward with their educations face cuts in some departments as others become more specialized, an adjunct faculty battle with the administration and community members developing legal funds to fight University development. Simultaneously, the search committee is seeking an individual who will have the skill and competence to deal with these current issues and those sure to arise in the future.

GW is a University undergoing an identity crisis. The past two decades have seen tremendous growth in a number of areas, but have also produced questions about the nature of the University. One major question includes the choice between a broad-based liberal arts curriculum and a specialized focus in political science, journalism or other similar programs. It is incumbent on the new president to answer these questions with a comprehensive vision for GW.

A smattering of diverse interests intersecting all levels of the institutional community will surely prevent a series of any length from probing all of the complex issues at stake for GW’s future. It is important, however, that given the closed nature of the search committee and limited student involvement, the student voice is presented in some capacity on this page.

These editorials are meant to go a step further and promote campus-wide and community-wide debate on a topic that will surely affect current students, prospective students, alumni, faculty, administrators, staff, the Foggy Bottom community and higher education in the District.

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