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June 6, 1996

Chancellor search down to 3

The list of candidates for Pitt chancellor has been pared to three finalists, but the three names are being kept confidential.

Search committee chairperson James C. Roddey told the University Times this week that the committee has reduced the list of candidates to three finalists . However, the committee is refusing to release the names of those finalists, a fact that some Faculty Assembly members find disturbing.

At its meeting on Tuesday, June 4, Faculty Assembly members expressed concern over the shroud of secrecy that has enveloped the search by approving a motion opposing the withholding of the identities of the three finalists and urging the candidates to make their names public. Assembly members took the action because they feel the search process has inhibited faculty input and that a small group of people, the search committee, is being allowed to make a decision that has wide consequences for the University.

During the last chancellor search in 1990 that yielded former Chancellor J. Dennis O'Connor, the names of the five semi-finalists were made public as they were brought to campus to meet with various trustees, faculty, staff and student groups.

Committee chair Roddey expects there will be an announcement of some sort regarding the search — either finalists or the new chancellor — during the week of June 17. The Board of Trustees will hold its annual meeting on June 20. Originally, it was expected the board would formally elect a new chancellor at that meeting. When asked if the announcement will contain the names of the finalists or the name of the person who will be nominated for the chancellor's job, Roddey said, "Either or. We're really not sure which it will be. But we'll have some sort of an announcement, probably the week of the 17th." Roddey said that on-campus interviews with the three finalists and various representatives of the University community are scheduled.

"We're expanding beyond the search committee to a large representation of the campus: faculty, deans, students, staff, regional campus presidents, etc.," Roddey said. "All of the constituencies will be represented." Roddey declined to say when the three finalists will be on campus, but it was announced at the June 4 Faculty Assembly meeting that one candidate is scheduled to visit tomorrow, June 7, and the other two are scheduled to be on campus next week. Herb Chesler, a member of both Faculty Assembly and the search committee, said a search committee meeting to evaluate the results of the interviews is slated for June 14 and that the committee will present its recommendation to the Board of Trustees on June 20.

Chesler also listed the groups with whom the finalists will interview on-campus. They include the search committee, the provost, all deans, Senate Council's executive committee, the presidents of Pitt's four regional campuses, Staff Association Council officers, various student leaders, Equipoise and the Provost's Advisory Committee on Women's Concerns. The Board of Trustees also is scheduled to host a reception for each finalist. Chesler said that each finalist will meet with an estimated 50 to 80 members of the University community during the on-campus interviews. None of the three candidates will make a public presentation, according to Roddey.

Some Faculty Assembly members defended the secrecy of the search despite their initial opposition.

Although he originally opposed keeping the names of the finalists secret, Chesler now agrees with that course of action. He said the committee has no choice. Two of the candidates have said they would withdraw from consideration if their names were made public, Chesler told the Assembly.

According to Chesler, some of the candidates requested anonymity earlier in the search because of concerns that their candidacies might affect their present jobs. He told Faculty Assembly that all of the finalists are currently university presidents.

Chesler said the committee never planned to keep the names of the candidates secret, but was trapped when it agreed to the first requests for anonymity. "It was an idea that had a life of its own," Chesler said.

Jim Holland, a frequently outspoken critic of senior administration and University policies, also said he believes the search committee is making the correct choice in keeping the names secret.

"The alternative would really be a search that totally fails," Holland said. He noted that if two of the finalists drop out because their names are made public, the University is left with giving the job to the third finalist or conducting another search that could leave Pitt without a permanent chancellor for another year or longer. "Hopefully, we could do it right by the year 2000," he added.

Mark Ginsburg attacked the secrecy, saying: "Where is the community participation in this decision for a key leadership role in the University? It is one thing to wait until you have three finalists to announce the names; it's another thing to totally keep this thing under wraps. I find that wholly objectionable." Walter Goldburg also objected to the secrecy and made the motion to oppose the withholding by the search committee of the finalists' names. Chesler said the search committee received more than 150 nominations or applications for the chancellor position. Each of the nominations or applications was reviewed by three sub-committees. Gradually, Chesler said, there was a "great convergence" on a list of semi-final candidates, which then was whittled to the three finalists.

–Mike Sajna

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