The University Record, October 21, 1996
It wasn't expected. It was met with an eerie silence at times, laughter at others. It was sometimes empassioned. It was honest and heartfelt. It reduced a Regent to tears.
The "it" is the series of presentations made Oct. 17 by members of the Presidential Search Advisory Committee (PSAC) to the Board of Regents, sitting as the Presidential Search Committee.
Those who may have thought the 12 members of the PSAC would walk into the Regents' Room, seat themselves and make a quick presentation on the details of their process and equally as quickly present the PSC with a list of recommended finalists in the presidential search were wrong.
What those in the Regents' Room and others received were well-thought-out comments from PSAC Chair Jeffrey Lehman, dean of the Law School, and the faculty, staff and student represesntatives on the committee---comments that showed their deep commitment to the charge they had been given, the seriousness with which they took that responsibility, and the integrity of each of them and the trust and respect they developed amongst themselves that guided their seven months of work.
During the two-hour presentation, each committee member commented on a specific aspect of the search, the restrictions under which they worked and their deeply held convictions that the slate of potential candidates they would present was the best the nation had to offer.
In opening the session Lehman took "a few moments to situate our efforts within the much larger context of your selection of the 12th president of the University of Michigan."
"As you might have discerned from the titles of the members of this committee, we are a group of people who are intimately familiar with the exercise of decision-making authority. At the same time, we are also intimately familiar with the role of adviser and staff member. And we know the difference between the two roles.
"On this committee, we did not hold decision-making authority. Rather, we had only the duties and responsibilities of advisers. You asked us to devote ourselves to making a considered judgment and giving you our best advice. Moreover, you asked us to be publicly accountable for that advice. You instructed us to stand up before the whole world and say what we thought, to put our own personal and collective reputations behind our recommendations to you of five or more individuals."
What follows here are excerpts of those presentations, designed to share with the University community how these 12 individuals felt about their work and the ind ividuals they ultimately would recommend to the PSC.
In outlining the process adopted by the PSAC, Lehman noted that "in applying the criteria that you set forth, we did not rely exclusively on our own judgments. You charged us to recommend leaders who would be able to work successfully with all the many subcommunities that have a stake in the ongoing life of this truly unique university, the University of Michigan. And you also charged us to recommend leaders who could communicate effectively with the many external communities that have the power to shape our destiny.
"Each member of this committee came to the PSAC with prior attachments to different pieces of the Michigan community. As a group, we knew from the beginning that the president would have to be more than just a good academic, more than just a good teacher, more than just a good administrator, more than just a persuasive advocate for the University in the external environment. Our next president would have to be all of those things."
Lehman also touched on the myths related to presidential searches.
"One popular but deeply erroneous account of what a presidential search entails goes like this. You advertise. You collect applications. You start with a batch of people who are qualified for the job and want it. You sift. You make cuts. You get down to a manageable number. You interview. You cut some more. You're done.
"By this account, the search is a process of elimination. The most important decisions have to do with who gets thrown out. Among the many people who are qualified to do the work and are clamoring to get it, who gets whacked away, and who gets to be the lucky winner.
"But as you are well aware, that is not what presidential search processes are about at all. You do not start with a big batch of qualified applicants.
"After we advertised the position and announced it widely, a grand total of 11 people nominated themselves for the job. Eleven. One subsequently withdrew.
"But, some will ask, what about that 300 number I kept hearing about? I thought you had 300 applications.
"The 302 prospects we will present to you shortly include the 11 people who nominated themselves, plus 291 people who were nominated by others.
"Why don't more people apply for university president?
"Because the job itself requires, indeed demands, proven success in prior positions of substantial responsibility. The relevant pool is small to begin with. It consists exclusively of people who are happy and succeeding in their current positions. The most time-consuming work in a search process is not decisional. The only real decision in the process---selecting one person out of the small pool of people who are truly qualified and who have been recruited into a state of potential interest---comes at the end of a lengthy process of identification and recruitment. In this search," Lehman told the Regents, "you are the decision-makers. Our committee's role was first to identify prospects, then to recruit, and ultimately to recommend."
Lehman noted that as chair of the committee, "it was incumbent on me to look far and wide for prospects who we might want to recruit. I devoted a great deal of my time during the months of March and April and May to gathering advice that I could bring back to the committee, as we worked to refine and clarify our collective understanding of the kind of person we needed. I attended meetings of alumni groups, including the national board of the Alumni Association, describing our work and soliciting input. We wrote to the University faculty, soliciting suggestions. I went with different members of the committee to sit down with every dean on the Ann Arbr, Dearborn and Flint campuses to gather advice and suggestions.
"I spoke with people whose perspective of the University of Michigan comes from outside Ann Arbor as well. Some of our outreach efforts took me outside of Ann Arbor, even outside of Michigan.
"This outreach brought us a very clear set of reminders of just how important this University is, and to just how many people. It brought us a vivid appreciation of how many people care about the special role that this institution plays---in our local community, in our state, in the nation, and even in the world. I must tell you it made me enormously proud to be associated with such a great institution. And it made me feel enormously fortunate to be part of an institution with so many friends.
"This outreach also brought us names. It brought us 291 suggestions of people whom others thought might perhaps fulfill the requirements that you have set forth, the aspirations that we all share for our next leader.
"Most of the 302 names came to us as just that, names. But you had given us a frighteningly stringent job description.
"Ultimately were able to amass biographical information on virtually all of the 302 people who nominated themselves for the position, or who were nominated by oth ers.
"The process was painstaking and time consuming. But through it, a few names within our prospects began to draw into focus as the most likely possibilities to satisfy the stringent requirements that you set forth for the 12th president of the University of Michigan. As consensus emerged, we would recruit the objects of our attention to come meet with the committee."
Recruiting and confidentiality
In recruiting candidates, Lehman said he called the prospects and described the process that had been developed.
"I would report that we had gotten their name and ask if they might be willing to be considered. They would indicate that they were flattered, but that they could not allow themselves to be considered because they loved their current jobs, they had no desire to leave, they did not want to do anything that might hurt their effectiveness in the jobs they loved, and they did not want to do anything that might be misunderstood as dissatisfact ion with the jobs or the institutions they loved.
"And I would persist. I would point out that, according to the search process that had been publicly announced last January, meeting with us was permitted to be kept completely confidential. Their privacy could be respected. Only if both we and they were sufficiently high on one another that we wanted to recommend them for the final phase would they confront the necessity of public, nonconfidential participation in our search proce ss.
"Often, I was told, that this limited, short period of confidentiality, was not enough. Unless I could give fairly high assurances that the Open Meetings Act would be held unconstitutional soon enough to change the shape of this search, they simply could not even begin to consider a conversation with us.
"But for some of the people whom we were most excited about having the chance to meet, the proffer of confidentiality during the advisory phase, to be followed by a final selection phase of voluntarily accepted public scrutiny, was an acceptable combination. All they needed was an assurance that what had publicly been described as a confidential phase would indeed be a confidential phase. They want to know that if the possibility of a fit did not materialize, they would not be harmed.
"They asked me to give my word that the University's proffer of confidentiality would really be honored. 'I'm willing to take my chances on the possibility that we just won't be able to go to the point where your committee recommends me. Just promise me you won't hurt me, or my employer. Just promise me that you will do no harm.'
"And I gave my word.
"I promised that our offer of confidentiality was real. I promised that if for any reason they might not want to go through the final phase, or my committee might not want to recommend them to you, we wouldn't knowingly do anything that might hurt them."
As one of two staff members on the PSAC, Nathan Norman, manager of Plant Building Services, brought a special perspective to the group.
"Being a member of the Physical Plant Department, I am well aware that the first impression of any individual visiting our campus is the appearance. In fact, surveys show that more than half of students and parents select schools of higher education based on the appearance of the campus. They take note of the architecture of the buildings, the landscaping, and the cleanliness of the buildings. I kept this vision in mind while participating on the Presidential Search Advisory Committee.
"From the very onset of this important mission, the enthusiasm and dedication of the committee never faltered. We continued to stay focused on the charge of finding the best possible candidate who would continue to strive toward the University's goals and objectives."
Commenting on his appointment to the PSAC, Norman said his initial concerns turned to ambivalence when asked by J. Bernard Machen, executive vice president and provost, to serve.
"Shortly thereafter, my ambivalence turned to optimism as staff members across campus congratulated me on the appointment.
"Never did they stop congratulating me. They made a point of telling me what they wanted to see in a president. I heard concerns from secretaries, maintenance workers, managers, retirees and even my barber, whose work career has spanned several presidents. He seems to be an authority on University presidents. I also heard from others through telephone calls, surveys, letters and even faxes. They all seemed to have a common thread, and that is: select a president who will include all of the University community in his/her agenda for success.
"Some spoke more specifically concerning issues of diversity, affirmative action, infrastructure of our buildings, and grounds. So meone even stated that academic excellence can best be achieved when all the University's components are considered.
"Someone said that if you search long and hard enough, you will find what you are looking for. We, the Presidential Search Advisory Committee, have searched long and hard in an effort to provide you with four highly qualified candidates. We now present these recommended candidates for your consideration, with the knowledge that your final decision will benefit all members of the University community."
In his presentation to the Regents, Fawwaz T. Ulaby, the R. Jamison and Betty Williams Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, noted that prior to his appointment he had not even heard of any of the other members of the PSAC.
"We started out as 12 individuals, each with his own outlook, experiences and, yes, biases. The transformation we evolved through over the course of the next two months was truly amazing: 12 diverse individuals seemed to gel into a coherent and united entity with a shared vision that transcended the narrowly focused views of its individuals members.
"Don't get me wrong, we did not suddenly turn into some kind of jelly; not at a ll. In fact we discussed, argued and debated throughout the process, but we did coalesce on what we viewed as the quality we're looking for in the person of the next president of the University of Michigan. This transformation process I speak of engendered a strong degree of mutual trust between the members of the committee and a high regard for the opinions and observations of each and every member of the committee.
"I spoke of us becoming a unified committee with a shared vision. It certainly didn't start that way. In fact, my first reaction upon learning that the committee was to have two students on it was to assume that they were there as token representatives. As to the alumnus and the two staff members of the committee, I was not as surprised by their presence on the committee, but I was not certain as to how much they will be able to contribute. After all, I reasoned to myself, it is the faculty that constitute the University and it is they who should advise the Regen ts in their selection of the next president.
"I could not have been more mistaken. The two students on the PSAC, Jennifer and Doneka, not only have proven to be outstanding contributors to the process, they also served as constant reminders to us all as to what the true function of the University really is. Their perspectives helped us shaped our collective thinking about the role of the University president, as well as formulate appropriate questions to ask potential candidates in the inte rview phase of the process.
"I have grown not only to appreciate what they have to say, but also to regard Jennifer and Doneka as fully equal partners on the committee. In fact, because of the many discussions Doneka and I have had, she no w refers to me as 'her buddy,' a tribute that exemplifies the best kind of bond that can develop between a faculty member and a student.
"I have since found the insights and perspectives contributed by Allan, Mary Anne and Nathan to be absolutely invaluable and very much complementary to those offered by the student and faculty members of the committee.
"In short, this was a very humbling experience, and more
importantly, it was a first-rate educational experience. We each
ended up learning a great deal about higher education, the challenges
we face as a
university community and many related matters, not only from each other but also from the many individuals we talked with, particularly the candidates."
Martha Vicinus, chair of the Department of English Language and Literature, was one of six faculty members on the PSAC and in her presentation to the Regents to uched on the qualities needed in an academic leader and manager.
"As we went over your list of desirable personal and professional qualifications, I confess that we sometimes wondered if every characteristic could be found in one person. But through the process of looking for the best qualifications in actual working administrators, we came to appreciate and understand their importance if we were to find a world-class president.
"We took seriously your list of professional crit eria. All of our nominees have a demonstrated record of significant academic and administrative experience in senior-level management at research institutions. All have strong academic credentials. They hold the respect of their peers in their individual areas of specialization, and are therefore able to understand, listen and speak to our faculty, research associates, graduate students and undergraduates about what is our single more important mission: creating, sustaining and passing on knowledge. < P > "These are difficult times for higher education across the nation. This truism has brought out the best in superior administrators. We have been overwhelmingly impressed with the abilities of our four to deal with such ubiquitous problems as under-funding and negative publicity. Each in different ways has shown imagination and resolve in handling the intricate financial balancing necessary to maintain quality. Each on occasion has brought together differing constituencies---competing necessities---to accept retrenchment. At the same time, all are experienced and effective fund-raisers; all show an impressive commitment to public higher education, and the importance of communicating effectively with alumni, parents, citizens and sta te legislators. We looked for candidates who could be national spokespersons---who believed passionately in the importance of a quality public institution, and could explain its importance to modern American society. We bring you four such nominees; the top leadership in higher education today is extremely impressive."
Vicinus noted in her presentation that in their discussions and evaluations of candidates and in interviews, "we never forgot your statement that the future preside nt must 'possess the highest degree of personal integrity.' Experience, intelligence and motivation are valueless without integrity. The personal characteristics that make for a great president are most often intangible. We sought out integrity, therefore, in terms of demonstrated actions and responsibilities. We looked for prospects who had shown themselves able to make difficult and timely decisions and to accept criticism when they felt they were in the right.
"Michigan has been a leader in higher education in pursuing racial and gender diversity. Last May you confirmed your commitment to the goals embodied in the Michigan Mandate and the Michigan Agenda for Women. Every person we met with was asked about what he or she had done to enhance race, ethnic and gender equity, to ensure that higher education was open to and representative of all citizens of America. We bring you four nominees with proven records---leaders who possess the highest personal standards.
" Personal and professional excellence, although essential prerequisites, are not sufficient in and of themselves. Allan Gilmour, coming from industry, taught me an important distinction: that leadership and management are not the same thing. We wanted someone who understood management, but also understood how to delegate.
"But most of all, we insisted upon that most difficult of characteristics---vision.
"An outstanding president must possess well-honed leadership skills and fine managerial talents, but without vision, she or he risks losing the larger picture. Higher education, above all, is in the business of building for the future---we train young minds, we create new knowledge, and we nurture future leadership for the state, the national and the world. These responsibilities demand foresight and understanding. Happily we have brought your four nominees who possess vision."
Paul N. Courant, chair of the Department of Economics, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor and professor of economics and public policy, touched on one of the more sensitive aspects of the PSAC's work---interviews with candidates.
"There is a strong tendency, well-established by research on the subject , to give interviews excessive weight in making personnel decisions. The interview is invariably 'hotter' than the file; you come away from an interview with a strong impression of someone's personality. Moreover, interviews tend to favor people who are quick, who are funny, who are effective at expressing emotion. Although all of these things are plusses for university presidents, none of them is at the absolute top of the list, and I expect all of us can think of very effective leaders who are not especially quick or funny, and of ineffective ones who are.
"Another potential problem in interpreting the interview in the
context of the candidate's overall record derives from the fact that
two hours (although a long interview) is a small slice of time in a
candidate's life. Whereas a lifetime of writing, teaching and
managing leaves a highly accurate record of someone's skills and
accomplishments, any given two hours is unlikely to be entirely typical of that person. It may be better in some ways and worse in others, but it is almost certainly not typical.
"All of this tells us that as part of our evaluation, the interviews would be seen as important, but hardly decisive.
"Having said that, the interview seemed to us to be more important in the case of this job---president of our University---than for the many other jobs that members of our committee have recruited people for in the past . The ability to think on her or his feet, the ability to convey persuasively the values and missions of a great public university, the ability to be intelligent about questions even where one is not yet well-informed, are all part of the job descripti on.
"All of these candidates showed us these abilities and more, and we look forward to the public interviews, in which you and the public will get the benefit of seeing the candidates in action, and in which the candidates will benefit from a perspective on the University that only you can convey to them.
"As important as the interview is to our developing a sense of these candidates' abilities and characters, so too is it important in their developing a sense of our Universiy and the opportunities and challenges of being our president."
James Jackson, the Daniel Katz Distinguished University Professor of Psychology, briefed the Regents on the PSAC's work in comparison with his pri or experiences as a member of the faculty, professional staff, department chair, dean and provost search committees.
"The Presidential Search Advisory Committee is one of the finest functioning committees it has ever been my pleasure to serve upon at the University of Michigan. It also was one of the most diverse in terms of professional backgrounds, ethnic makeup, interests and gender. Ideologically, we also represented a broad swath of the political spectrum. Yet the PSAC came together in t his task, joined by a common concern with advising you about the best possible set of candidates for you to consider, a group of people, whom we believed that you would concur, could best serve the University of Michigan as its new president."
Jackson also noted that the PSAC "felt a sense of collective responsibility to you, the Regents, and to the faculty, staff and students, in locating a group of individuals that we would all feel comfortable with if you selected one to be the new president of this outstanding and complex organization."
"The search was not a simple or straightforward task. Making it less difficult was the fact that the committee quickly came to trust each other. Deliberately at first and then with increasing speed we became knowledgeable of each other's perspectives and the concerns and different visions of the University that we brought to the search. Out of this diversity grew a common belief in the qualities that would make an outstanding president.
"There were several remarkable aspects of this process. One reflected trust in the integrity and positive motives of all of us on the committee. Thus, our conversations became educational opportunities and not thinly veiled attempts to persuade. Second, was the shared positive view of the future of the University. Finally, we all came to believe that we were engaged in indirect and ultimately direct conversations with potential candidates for the position.
"We envisioned the entire process as an opportunity to engage in a dialogue with the potential prospects---a dialogue designed to reveal outstanding individuals who met your criteria of intellectual and administrative distinction, and whose personal life-stage, professional point in their careers, and ambitions would permit them to become viable candidates. We sought to identify individuals whose personal and professional lives fit the needs of the University of Michigan as you had defined them in this particular historical moment.
"The process of reading and discussing professional and intellectual writings placed us in a form of symbolic interaction with our intermediate pool of likely candidates. In many cases, our sources of nominations also played an important role at this point, providing us with candid and confidential assessments of this group of outstanding people. Those most gratifying and exciting stage was the interactions during the interviews with the potential candidates---live people who could now engage us in responsive conversations.
"Direct conversations with the members of this group permitted us to ascertain a final set of individuals whom we felt best fit your criteria and whose personal an d professional characteristics seemed most like to fit the needs of this institution.
"There is no process of selecting individuals for such a responsible and demanding position that is foolproof. We believe that through our innumerable dire ct and indirect conversations, however, that we have presented you with a group from which you can make a reasonable determination of their suitability and interests in leading this institution."
Huda Akil, the Gardner C. Quarton Professor of Neurosciences and co-director of the Mental Health Research Institute, brought to the search process a perspective that has become increasingly important over a very short period of time---the changes taking place in the medical community and health care nationwide.
She also addressed a characteristic she felt important among the committee members and in the individuals the group ultimately would recommend trust.
"I believe each one of us on the committee had the same goal: To live up to the trust you put in us by recruiting into this process the best group of men and women in the nation in order to bring them to your attention. But how does one translate that goal into action? First and foremost, I felt we needed to identify for your consideration people we can all trust. By all, I meant not only the members of our advisory committee, not only the Regents, critical as this is, but eventually the students, the faculty, staff, the alumni and the people of the state of Michigan.
"We needed to be able to trust each of these people, not only in the short term but in planning for the long-term future of our institution. W e needed to trust him or her with our educational and academic mission, but also with our financial solvency, our role as a public institution and our position as one of the leading research universities in the nation.
"For this person to ear n such wide trust, I felt that he or she needed to have a proven track record of seeking and achieving excellence; of having personal integrity; of possessing the courage to take risks, accept failures and learn from them; of listening and seeking advice; of allowing honest disagreement; and having the wisdom to surround himself or herself with people of the highest caliber.
"This person also needed to be a true academician, someone who had thought deeply about issues facing public education in a research university, because these issues are far too complex to be fully appreciated by an outsider who is simultaneously learning how to be a president. This set of requirements is, of course, fully consistent with your charge to us. I am merely describing my own area of emphasis. In the end, when it was time to synthesize a great deal of intellectual, personal and social information about a potential candidate, it was helpful for me to get back to this simple question: Can we all trus t th is person?
"But there is yet a third arena in which trust is critical. Not only did we have to trust each other, not only did we need to identify potential candidates we could all trust, but it was equally critical for us to earn the trust of those on the other side of the process. The nominees themselves had to not only trust the committee, but through it, have faith that the University of Michigan would treat them in an honorable and respectful manner. So, in my personal view, a sense of trust is at the very core of this process at every level."
Akil then touched on her other concern---"the unique challenges facing academic medicine at this time and their impact on our Medical Center in particular, and our University in general."
"I felt that this issue is emblematic of other difficult questions which are likely to face our next president---difficult problems where one needs to weigh 'real life' concerns, including economics and competiti on in the market place, with important academic considerations and our fundamental mission to teach, conduct research and serve the people of this state.
"At stake is whether we primarily provide healthcare---a noble endeavor in its own right---o r whether we also create knowledge which will continue to improve the lives of people in this state and this country.
"The irony is that while academic medicine is embattled nationwide, there have never been as many opportunities to improve lives based on dramatic advances in basic research, clinical research and biomedical technology.
"My personal bias is that the University of Michigan Medical Center, as one of the top 10 academic medical centers in the nation, has the obligation to continue its fundamental commitment to its academic and teaching missions.
"So when it came to thinking about potential candidates to bring to your attention, I did not look for someone who knew all the intricacies of the he alth care crisis, but someone who understood the general issues and was committed to the pursuit of knowledge even when inconvenient.
"I had to trust the potential candidate with this issue, and felt that this trust would symbolize my faith that this person would deal with other complex issues in a wise and courageous manner.
"I will close by saying that, for me, this has been a profoundly enlightening experience. We all had to dig deep into our souls to see what we valued most, and shared these ideas and ideals with each other in order to be able to recruit and bring to your attention four remarkable human beings whom we felt we could trust with our lives and with our University."
Mary Anne Drew
Mary Anne Drew, assistant to the dean, College of Architecture and Urban Planning, shared with the Regents her thoughts on the importance of the "synergistic relationship" among the various members of the University community and the importance of the interview phase of the process.
"As a staff member serving on the Presidential Search Advisory Committee, I have gained an increased appreciation of the importance of a truly synergistic relationship among faculty, staff, students and alumni . I realized that although the viewpoints or perspectives may diverge somewhat, each group shared a passion for excellence and for the University.
"Their points of reference, emphasis or articulation might be
different, but each had a love for and commitment to Michigan and its
role as a public research university. As a committee, we were
passionate in our desire to present to the Regents, the University
communities in Ann Arbor, Flint and Dearborn, and to the
people of the state of Michigan a list of potential candidates who we believed were the very best in higher education today.
"We had as a committee developed such an esprit de corps where opinions an d viewpoints were respected and solicited from each other. It was our task to establish that rapport with the nominees. We wanted them to understand that there were no 'correct' answers to our questions. The questions had been designed to elicit their ideas, passions and concerns on the myriad challenges facing higher education and the University of Michigan in particular.
"In our case, the interview needed to serve two purposes. The first was to learn more about the nominees, and the second was to engender in each potential candidate an enthusiasm for becoming the 12th president of the University.
"This interview's dual purposes---information gathering and recruiting---are two seemingly dissimilar tasks. Yet we fel t each was of equal importance. In a sense, the information gathering was easier in that we asked each individual a series of questions, and we compared their responses and our impressions.
"How, at the same time, to weave into this process the characteristics of a 'persuasion' or recruitment interview was more problematic in this group setting. It required an effective balance in the questions and the manner in which they were asked; active listening skills which helped us to respond to an individual's particular interests and concerns; and a sense of partnership with these potential candidates in which we were committed to seeking a match between the skills and interests of the individuals we would be recommending and the particular needs of the University at this time in its history.
"The interviews themselves were incredible experiences. We met fascinating people from very diverse backgrounds. We learned a great deal from these incredibly smart, successful and inter esting individuals. Each of them helped us to better understand the challenges facing higher education today. Because of their varied backgrounds and experiences, we were able to look at the problems and opportunities from differing perspectives. We were convinced we had met some of the most impressive leaders in America.
"I would like to thank the Regents for this opportunity of a lifetime. For me, it represented a chance to learn more about the University, its programs and its people. I am very proud to be a member of this community, which may be centered in Ann Arbor but has vital satellites in Flint and Dearborn and extends worldwide through its network of alumni."
Doneka Scott, a graduate student in the College of Pharmacy, and Jennifer Norris, a senior biology major in LS&A, were the two student members of the PSAC.
Rather than making separate presentations to the Regents, they choose to make a dual presentation, one leading from the other's comments.
"In the beginning," Scott said, "we were worried that we wouldn't be heard, but later we found that it was not necessary to worry about that, because we felt like we had equal contribution in all aspects of the process. The committee embraced us. We personally felt like we had 10 personal advisers on life, or just any questions that we had. And what drove the point home was the invitation to go sailing with Paul on Lake Erie. We never felt uncomfo rtable asking questions, presenting views, or challenging opinions. Our views were greatly appreciated, and the committee recognized that the student voice was an integral part of this whole process."
Commenting on the enormity of the t ask of representing the student body, Norris noted "that it was important for us to be overly prepared for every meeting, and to be present at every single meeting. Our responsibility also entailed learning about every part of the University, not j ust our own constituency, and contributing to conversations that entailed different areas of the University.
"We also made our personal charge twofold. Our first charge was obtaining student input, and making sure that the student voice wa s heard. Our second charge was making sure that we were there, and that we voiced our opinion in every circumstance. For our input collection on campus, we decided the best way to do this would be to explore many different methods.
We also kne w that obtaining student input was a process that would be twofold. Not only did we have to get the information, but we had to present it back to the committee, and we had to present it in a form where they could ask questions and find out more about s tudent views on campus. So we summarized these and handed out copies to the entire committee.
Addressing the remaining phases of the search process, Scott told the Regents she and Norris "feel that it's very important to utilize the resour ces to become familiar with the four nominees, and by doing this I think the most important thing to do is to research the university (of each candidate). Jennifer and I, we knew the student perspective---we knew that very well---but it was amazing the other facets of the University that we didn't know about and you need to know all these things in order to critically evaluate nominees. So some suggestions that I bring forth is to read publications, and to search the Web. We found an awful lot of information on the Web, such as student news articles, speeches. You can learn about their institutions, find out about their stances and their visions. And from this material you can design questions that will enable you to find out more about the nominees. And most important, I think, students must go to the town meetings and have their voice be heard.
Concluding their presentation, Norris stated:
"The student voice, we feel, is an integral part of this University and therefore is an integral part of this process. We feel that we have only taken the first step to incorporate the student voice into the presidential search, and now it is the responsibility of the rest of the student body to be present and to make sure that their voice is heard throughout the rest of the process.
Nora Faires, associate professor of history and chair, Departrment of History, U-M-Flint, focused her comments on the benefits that derive from the decentralized nature of the University.
"As the committee pursued its charge, our conversations turned often to the question of the scale and scope of the presidency...
" As you know best, the University of Michigan is, among other things, a very large, complex, and, in ways our committee found important to understand, complicated institution. The institution requires clarity, vision, strongly articulated values, and far-reaching and supple leadership at its center, most saliently in its highest administrative office, the presidency. The unity, no less the symbolic and literal integrity, of the University of Michigan resides in this office and its holder. It is imperative to have such visible excellence at the top.
"At the same time, much of the unique strength, vitality, exuberance, and efficacy of the University of Michigan lies in its decentralized nature. In important ways, all of us---Regents, fa culty, students, staff, administrators, alumni---experience Michigan in the microcosm of the environments we daily inhabit...
"The excellence attained in these many overlapping environments contributes to the formation of the distinctive ex cellence which the University of Michigan represents. Being more than the sum of its parts, Michigan as an evolving institution and an enduring ideal thrives by challenging all of its members to greatness, seeking excellence at its center and excellenc e throughout.
"For nearly 15,000 currently enrolled students, their University of Michigan is experienced at the two regional campuses of Dearborn and Flint. Like others at the University of Michigan, the faculty, staff, students and alumn i of these campuses both contribute to and benefit from the synergism of centralization and decentralization that has served Michigan so well.
"Our committee has taken pains to understand the different needs and objectives of the two regiona l campuses not as separate entities but as particular parts of the whole of the University of Michigan. In our endeavor to fulfill our charge, each of us on the committee has had the privilege to encounter or become more familiar with aspects of the U niversity previously little known. Doing so has been a delight. What we discovered both impressed us with the multitude of wonderful small worlds that together make up the University of Michigan and invigorated our commitment to identify individuals w ho can lead this enterprise from its secure and exciting present to an even greater future."
Allan Gilmour, retired vice chairman of the board of Ford Motor Co., brought the perspective of the University's more tha n 300,000 alumni to the group's deliberations.
"The list of four names that we recommend to you today is an outstanding list, in my view---one that is consistent with your charge to the committee earlier in the year, one that reflects both e xtensive and intensive work to find the best possible candidates, and one that includes the names of four highly qualified candidates for you to assess.
"All of us on the committee recognize, of course, that the hardest work lies ahead---yo ur work to decide whether or not to accept our recommendations (I think you should), interview and evaluate your finalists, and then (often forgotten) recruit your choice to the position.
"I would like to offer some comments on a question t hat came up in the committee's deliberations and that may recur during your work. Our list of four people includes only those with strong academic and academic-administration careers. Why did we not include in our list people whose principal careers h ad been outside the academy---in business, law, medicine, government or somewhere else? There are some such people in our prospect list of more than 300 names, and some of these in turn had distinguished careers.
"In the end, none of these people, as distinguished as they might be, were among our top group. Most of them were simply not interested in being considered.
"Moreover, the position as you described it in the presidential search criteria and as it is, in fact, at th e University of Michigan dictates that the president "must have strong academic credentials to validate their understanding of academic values." They must be able to inspire, lead and command the respect of a community of professors, students , staff and alumni...
"I believe choosing a university president without a strong higher education is a major risk, one you need not take.
"The reason you don't need to take it is that we were able to identify four people with a ll the other skills of leadership and management that the position requires, who also have extensive higher education experience...Their quality meant that we did not need to compromise in applying your criteria."
Malcolm McKay of Russell Reynolds Associates Inc., was retained by the Regents as a consultant for the search. He was unable to attend the Oct. 16 meeting, but forwarded a letter that was read b y Lehman.
"I have the perspective of viewing this search against the backdrop of perhaps a hundred previous searches. It has been, by far, the most thorough, disciplined, focused search I've seen.
"The search for the new presid ent of the University of Michigan is especially significant because the University is a world leader, and its new president, by virtue of his or her position, will be a national spokesperson for higher education. It is one of the very top university pr esidencies in the country.
"The very good news is that even if this search had been magically altered to be unlike any other, so that all personal and professional constraints had been removed from all potential candidates and the search ad visory committee simply could have summoned any four people in the world to come before you as candidates, it is hard to imagine the committee putting together a better list that the one it has presented you this morning.
"The four candidate s the committee has presented to you are at the very top of American higher education...It is an extraordinary candidate group, and one that the University should be proud to have attracted. All four have exemplary academic, administrative, and persona l records and reputations."