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May 9, 1996

What they're asking the chancellor candidates

They're not rigidly scripted, but the Pitt chancellor search committee's interviews with candidates all follow the same general format and prepared list of questions.

The question list distributed to the 24 committee members points out: "These should be viewed as basic questions. Other questions leading from answers to these questions and questions of your own choosing should also be asked." Committee chairperson James C. Roddey said he begins each interview by welcoming the candidate, introducing search committee members, and asking the candidate to briefly describe his or her views and philosophies on higher education.

Then the committee begins firing away with questions. The prepared list reads as follows:

1. You have read the position specification which describes the general experiences and characteristics that we are seeking in a chancellor. Please summarize some of the experiences which you have had, and some of the characteristics which you possess, that have prepared you to be the chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh.

2. What is your overall vision regarding higher education during the next five to ten years for universities such as the University of Pittsburgh? What are likely to be the major issues and concerns for such institutions?

3. You were given a copy of The University of Pittsburgh Review, prepared by James L. Fisher, Ltd. The Board of Trustees has given full consideration to the issues raised in the Review and has chosen to accept many of them while discounting others. What issues in the Review concern you most? As chancellor, what strategies and directions would you propose to address these issues and in what order of priority?

4. What experiences both successful and unsuccessful, in strategic and operational planning, particularly associated with limited resources have you had and to what extent do you think your approaches might be applied to the University of Pittsburgh? What experiences have you had in building, implementing and controlling institutional budgets? How would you approach these processes at the University of Pittsburgh?

5. What negative professional experiences, if any, have you had? How did you manage them and what were the final outcomes?

6. What type of working relationships do you envision between you and the various segments [of the University community]? For example, between you and the Board of Trustees, the faculty, the staff, students and alumni? What role do you see the chancellor playing in the day-to-day activities of the university? In Pittsburgh? The region? The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania? The nation?

7. What role do you see fund-raising playing in the life of public universities as we approach the year 2000 and beyond? What have been your most successful efforts in the area of securing gifts and other external funds? In securing grants and contracts? In working with the legislature or other political entities to secure enhanced funding? Where have you failed in these efforts and what have you learned from these failures?

8. What are some of the most difficult decisions that you have had to make at your institution and how did you approach them? Could you cite examples to give us insight into the general approach you take to make decisions when the issues are difficult and complex?

9. What positive changes have you brought about at your institution? Were there changes that did not work out positively?

10. What do you see as the relative importance of teaching (undergraduate, graduate and professional), research, creative activity and service in the mission of the University of Pittsburgh? What kinds of action have you taken at your institution to encourage outstanding teaching? Outstanding research? Creative activity? Outstanding service, both to the public and to the institution?

11. How do you view the role of the University of Pittsburgh as an urban institution? Your role as chancellor in respect to civic and corporate boards? Do you have any experience as a member of such boards?

12. What are your views regarding the importance of diversity of students, faculty and staff? What actions have you taken at your current institution to enhance diversity? What types of actions would you initiate or consider at the University of Pittsburgh?

13. What would you hope to accomplish as the chancellor at the University of Pittsburgh? How would you, personally, measure your performance after your first year?

14. What do you consider to be the role of intercollegiate athletics at an institution such as the University of Pittsburgh?

15. What experiences have you had with unionization? To what extent is your current institution unionized?

16. Why would you leave your current institution to come to the University of Pittsburgh?

17. The University of Pittsburgh recognizes that the strength of an institution rests upon its undergraduate programs. In the recent past, however, Pitt has come to be better known for the quality of its graduate/professional programs and research. What actions would you take to strengthen the undergraduate student body?

18. What characteristics do you believe critical in a quality undergraduate education?

19. Institutions of higher education are not insulated from the economic pressures that have affected virtually every segment of American society. In the recent past, the cost of higher education has grown at a rate that has exceeded that of inflation. This has occurred even with institutions exercising prudent fiscal management and, often, deferring needed maintenance. What actions have you taken, or would you take, to ensure operational efficiency and effectiveness?

20. As a state-related institution, the University of Pittsburgh is an instrumentality of the Commonwealth and receives a significant portion of its annual operating budget from the Commonwealth. It also serves a large private constituency. What actions have you taken to secure an adequate resource base from these sectors?

21. As a member of the Association of American Universities, the University is recognized as a major research institution. Over the past five decades, beginning with Jonas Salk's research on the polio vaccine, to current transplant techniques and cancer research, Pitt has been recognized as a major contributor to medical research. Like accomplishments have been made in other fields, such as History and Philosophy of Science. What actions would you recommend to maintain and enhance excellence in research while supporting the concept of quality undergraduate programs?

22. What role should the University, as an urban, state-related institution, play in the social and economic development of the city, county, region and state?

23. Please give us your definition of shared governance and your thoughts on its role in a university environment.

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