November 1, 2002

C.U. President Search Continues to Progress

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The search for Cornell’s eleventh president is continuing as anticipated with many constituencies keeping quiet on the most recent proceedings. The process begun in April after current President Hunter R. Rawlings III announced the end of his term would be June of next year. The search process is expected to end before winter break.

Members of the committee are not allowed to divulge information on the search’s status. According to Henrik N. Dullea ’61, vice president for University relations, “They’re in a quiet period now.”

The announcement of the new president will be made “in due course,” he said.

The current number of candidates in consideration is now unknown. Edwin H. Morgens ’63, chair of the search committee and vice-chair of the Board of Trustees, said in July that the committee would possibly narrow the list to an initial 50, then 25, 10 and a final few before the choice is made.

“We’re going to actually speak with more than 25 candidates and less than 50,” he said earlier in the year.

Peter C. Meinig ’62, chair of the Board of Trustees and member of the search committee, commented on the desired qualities of candidates in an August in an interview with The Sun. Since Cornell is an institution with highly varied interests including the Weill Medical College, lobbyists in Washington and the land-grant mission, there is a question of the experience in these diverse areas required by the committee.

“We haven’t tried to rank qualities or experience, which are important considerations,” Meinig said. “I think the key is to have a person with the ability to understand these areas.”

Meinig declined in a recent request to add any comment on the committee’s progress.

There has been some speculation that the search committee is considering political candidates in New York, such as state Comptroller Carl McCall, Democratic gubernatorial candidate.

A representative of the McCall campaign did not know of any involvement with the presidential search but added that it is unlikely since, “he’s going to be our next governor.”

Reuters yesterday said that McCall “badly trails” behind Governor George Pataki in the race. The election takes place on Tuesday.

Another speculated candidate is Harold Levy, former chancellor of the New York City public schools. He could not be reached for comment.

Asked about Levy, Meinig replied in the August interview, “The operative word is ‘no comment.'”

“The Presidential Search Committee will not comment on progress in the search except to say that we are excited about the quality of the talent pool out there and gratified [by] the interest of potential candidates in coming to Cornell,” Morgens stated in an e-mail. “If we were to disclose much more than that we would run the risk of having quality prospects drop out of the process for fear that their identity and interest in Cornell might be disclosed at their present institution, whatever that might be.”

Morgens added, “the search is going well and the Committee is pleased with its progress.”

The members of the Board are currently on campus for Trustee Weekend, which began yesterday.

“We’re optimistic about finding a solid president,” said Leslie Barkemeyer ’03, student-elected trustee and student member of the search committee. “The process is going along swimmingly.”

The new president’s term begins on July 1, 2003. Members of the committee have previously stated their intention to complete the search process in December but no further information on the timetable is available.

“We’re not really setting ourselves a time,” Barkemeyer said. “We want to find a quality president” rather than rush the process, she added.

Archived article by Andy Guess