Board of Trustees chairman talks presidential search

Photo courtesy of Momentum 2 website
Photo courtesy of Momentum 2 website
Photo courtesy of Momentum 2 website

Stuart A. Miller, chairman of the Board of Trustees, appointed the 13 members of the Presidential Search Committee that will select President Donna E. Shalala’s successor.

The Miami Hurricane sat down with Miller to discuss the search process thus far.

The Miami Hurricane: Can you go over the process and how it has been going?

Stuart Miller: Well, we’re at the very beginnings of a process right now. The first part of that process was to assemble a search committee, which you probably noted last week, the search committee was announced. And that is the group of people that are going to be carrying out, under the leadership of Richard D. Fain, the search for our next president.

The process they will go through is a process of first reaching out to various parts of the university and broader community to get feedback – to try to form a view as to the kind of person that would best meet the needs of the university in terms of taking it forward into its next level.

TMH: Correct me if I am wrong, but were you supposed to chair the search committee and then defer to Fain? How does that process work?

SM: I am the chairman of the Board of Trustees of the university. It is a normal process that the chair of the Board appoints a chairman, and then ultimately, as I have done, an entire search committee to take on that search. And what the search committee will do is start by reaching out to the community for feedback, then the search committee will form a priorities list and almost a job description for what the president for our university should be. And then, on a very confidential basis, they will start going out and looking for, inviting applications, and interviewing participants that submit their resume.

TMH: Have you started to get applications?

SM: No. I don’t think there’s not a timeframe set in place. I would say that the starting point is to reach out to the community at large and get feedback. And before we start reaching out, we’re going to start by reaching in and listening to people and participants to develop a sense of where we want to go.

TMH: What are some of the ways that the committee is planning to reach out?

SM: I’m going to wait on that because the committee will have its first meeting soon. And as they have their first meeting, they will determine the best way for reaching out. I will say, looking historically, it’s highly likely that the committee will put together groups that they will invite to spend face-to-face time with the committee. When I say groups, it will be in the nature of a series of meetings with designated participants and maybe some town-hall meetings as well.

TMH: How were the other members selected?

SM: It was a group of trustees, a group of faculty members, and other participants. You’ll see that it is a fairly diverse group from different places. Of course, it is primarlily, is the job of Board of Trustees to choose the next president. It is a combination of trustees and others to make sure voice of the university is heard.

TMH: How much student input do you expect to get? Will it be just from the student trustee?

SM: Well, again, I want to let the process unfold and let the search committee and speak to how they will reach out to the community. I expect there will be a broader outreach to students as well.

TMH: Is there anything else you would like to add?

SM: Well, I guess, I would say as I speak to our community newspaper, meaning the UM community newspaper, I think we all recognize that the next president of UM is going to be our collective president – a president to lead us all forward to be the university we all want to be in the future. The search for president is one that is going to be designed to make sure that we’re representing many different voices.

And of course, no one person can engender everything we want to incorporate in a university  president. We’ll end up with some compromises along the way, but many voices can and should be heard. I think you can look forward to a comprehensive process that is designed to get us to the best results.

Alexander Gonzalez contributed to this report.