search committee

Andrew Hamilton, reported as finalist to replace Powers, will be NYU's next president

Andrew Hamilton, vice chancellor at the University of Oxford, will be New York University's next president. Hamilton was widely reported as the front-runner to replace President William Powers Jr. in the search for UT's next president.
Andrew Hamilton, vice chancellor at the University of Oxford, will be New York University's next president. Hamilton was widely reported as the front-runner to replace President William Powers Jr. in the search for UT's next president.

Oxford University vice chancellor Andrew Hamilton has been selected as New York University's next president, NYU administrators announced Wednesday.

Hamilton, whom many considered to be the front-runner for the UT presidency, will succeed NYU president John Sexton in January 2016. Hamilton was interviewed by the UT System Board of Regents and met with a small search committee earlier this month.

“I am delighted to be selected as NYU’s 16th president,” Hamilton said in a statement. “I am looking forward with great eagerness to working with NYU’s faculty, students, administrators, and staff, and to joining a university that is so manifestly energetic, innovative, and successful.”

Greg Fenves, executive vice president and provost of the University, and David Daniel, president of UT-Dallas, are the remaining finalists in the search for the UT president, according sources directly involved with the search committee.

Before joining Oxford in 2009, Hamilton worked as an assistant professor of chemistry at Princeton University, and then as a department chair and professor of chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh. He also served as provost of Yale University from 2004 until 2008.

To read more about the presidential search process, click here. 

The UT System Board of Regents declined to announce the candidates for the UT presidency after a closed-door session Wednesday.
Photo Credit: Graeme Hamilton | Daily Texan Staff

After seven hours in a closed-door session Wednesday, the UT System Board of Regents declined to name a president or announce the names of the finalists for the UT presidency. 

According to a UT System press release, the Board “must vote to name one or more finalists and then must wait 21 days before making an official appointment.” 

The three finalists have met with a small search committee but have not met with the Faculty Council or the System Faculty Council. 

Following the meeting Wednesday, UT System Chairman Paul Foster spoke about the leaked information regarding the candidates for the presidency. An unknown source close to the University leaked the identities of the three candidates in late February, although Foster could not confirm the leaked identities. 

The source named Greg Fenves, executive vice president and provost of UT, David Daniel, president of UT-Dallas, and Andrew Hamilton, vice chancellor of the University of Oxford in England, as candidates.

“I’m as frustrated as anybody whenever there are leaks,” Foster said. “The search committee was a broad cross section of a lot of different people, and I don’t know where the leaks came from. I certainly don’t want to point fingers at anybody; I wouldn’t even know who to point my finger at.”

Foster said despite the hushed nature, the presidential search included input from large stakeholder groups. He said even though having a large group means leaks are harder to prevent, the additional input is worth the risk.

“I think the process is a good one. I think the students, faculty, staff, they all have to be included,” Foster said. “Alumni [and] all constituencies need to be included in the process. One of the risks [is], the bigger a group gets, the more likely you are to have a leak, and that’s just something we have to deal with.”

Foster said candidates were warned that their identities could be leaked because of the high number of people involved in the search process.

Biomedical engineering senior Anuj Kudva, a member of the presidential search committee, said he felt the search was effective but that students could always benefit from more input.

“I think they handled it really well, but there could always be more student input, but I also understand where they’re coming from in terms of why they didn’t do a town hall,” Kudva said.

In the press release, UT System Chancellor William McRaven said he is happy with the outcome of the search committee’s recommendations.

“This is one of the most important decisions the Board will ever make, and it will have a tremendous impact not only on UT-Austin, but on the UT System and entire state of Texas. Therefore, I think it is in the best interest of the University for the Board and me to take a little time for consideration,” McRaven said. “And, after what we learned today from each of the candidates, I can say with great confidence that UT-Austin will be firmly poised to accelerate its strong trajectory toward preeminence.”

UT President William Powers Jr. at the Dell Medical School groundbreaking in April 2014.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Garza | Daily Texan Staff

Over the summer, UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa flexed his political muscle by attempting to force President William Powers Jr. to resign in time for the July Board of Regents meeting or face a public firing. The plan backfired, to put it mildly. The student body rallied to Powers’ defense, and the imbroglio culminated with Provost Greg Fenves announcing at a meeting of the Faculty Council that Powers and Cigarroa had reached a deal whereby the former would stay on through the end of this academic year.

Not long after the compromise was struck, the System assembled a search committee to recommend to the regents a suitable replacement. Since the official announcement of its membership, which includes three regents, in mid-September, the committee has met once. This leaves plenty of time for an excellent candidate to be chosen, but the committee members, who are assisted by the executive search consulting firm Spencer Stuart, will have to think carefully and creatively about exactly what sort of leader the University needs next.

The first and clearest delineation will be between internal and external candidates. Native sons and daughters will rightly enjoy a distinct advantage over Longhorn tenderfoots among the UT-dominated search committee. They will have had ample opportunity, particularly if of the aspirational sort, to capture the attention of the 21 individuals acting as filters to the regents and prove their understanding of and loyalty to the University. We imagine that chief among these candidates would be Fenves, the current provost and former engineering dean. (Fenves, for his part, previously had no comment on whether he was interested in the job or being considered for it.)

But the regents, whose allegiances seem to have shifted away from Powers, will likely be biased toward outside candidates. With Powers enjoying less-than-unanimous support from the regents, they may well be looking for someone untainted by his influence. If this is indeed one of their determining criteria, Fenves’ service to the University could, unfortunately, act as an immediate black mark against him; not only does he report to Powers, but he is also seen as a very clear Powers man. 

Given the recent hostile environment toward Powers, however, it will take a very special non-UT academic or administrator to want the job. Granted, one might have said something similar about the position vacated by former head football coach Mack Brown, but for reasons of self-preservation, most potentially interested candidates may not want to expose themselves to the same fate as Powers, whose views, at least before his deeply concerning final State of the University Address, were mainstream for the academic community. 

That could mean someone from outside the academy. This seems to us the most disturbing possibility. A little business savvy certainly wouldn’t hurt the University at a time of greater reliance on non-state sources of funding, but what the University needs most of all is a leader who will not bend under the pressure of the current batch of mostly anti-intellectual regents appointed by outgoing governor Rick Perry. 

In other words, the committee has a challenging task before it: to find a candidate palatable to the regents who won’t kowtow to their business-oriented demands. While we would prefer to see an existing Longhorn installed, we place the greatest value on their independence of mind, because while the worst may have passed, the University still needs a fighter in the Tower.

With President William Powers Jr. set to leave his position in June 2015, Paul Foster, UT System Board of Regents chairman, is in the process of forming a search committee to find candidates to replace him.

In July, Powers agreed with Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa to set his resignation for June 2015. Cigarroa initially asked Powers to resign in October, but Powers requested to stay on until after the 2015 legislative session.

At the regents meeting Thursday, Foster announced Pedro Reyes, executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, and Larry Faulkner, who served as University president from 1998-2006, would both chair the committee. Foster also said an outside firm would be hired to help the committee identify candidates.

“I am asking the committee to bring to the board the broadest possible slate of highly-qualified, experienced and skilled leaders with exceptional dedication and talent necessary to lead the University of Texas at Austin,” Foster said.

In accordance with the Regents’ Rules and Regulations, Foster said he will also select board members and System institution presidents to the committee as well as alumni and external members. Naval Adm. William McRaven, who will become System chancellor in January, has agreed to serve as one of the external members on the committee. In addition, a University dean will also serve on the committee, as elected by his fellow deans.

The Faculty Council is in the process of selecting three faculty members to serve in the search committee. Elections between nine finalists are being held until Thursday. Once the voting period is over, the regents will review the winning candidates for approval.

Erika Frahm, senior program coordinator for University Human Resources and former Staff Council chair, was nominated for the staff position on the committee on Aug. 21.

The sole student spot on the committee will be filled by Geetika Jerath, Senate of College Councils president. Jerath was selected in a vote between her, Student Government President Kori Rady and David Villarreal, Graduate Student Assembly president.

“I’ll definitely include [Student Government and GSA] as much as I can in the process,” Jerath said. “For the all of the other students as well, I’m currently working on an outreach plan to see how I can reach out to as many of them, whether it’s attending their meetings or reaching out to them online and receiving as much feedback as possible going into the process.”

On Aug. 12, the three student leaders requested the System add a second spot to the search committee, which would be filled by Rady.

“At this point I don’t have much information since they are working on setting up the committee,” Jerath said.  “I’m sure that once they set it up we will be given more information as a whole.”

Rady said he will stay as involved as possible in the presidential search process even if the request is not filled.

“I’ll stay in contact with [Jerath] who is our student representative, and I will make sure I inform people on what she’s experiencing and what she thinks the students would like to see in a president.” Rady said. “I’ll be her council on that.”

Jerath said the second student spot is being requested in order to include as many students as possible in the presidential search. 

While the students have not received a formal response, UT System employee Karen Adler said the search committee’s structure would follow the regents’ rules, which specifies only one student will be selected for the search committee. According to Adler, the only time two students have been on a presidential search committee in recent history was for UT-Rio Grande Valley, a institution formed by the merger of UT-Brownsville and UT-Pan American.

“It would be rather extraordinary to give them a second spot,” Foster said to reporters after Thursday’s regents meeting.

As plans move forward to create the Dell Medical School, which will be affiliated with UT Austin, a search committee has been formed to find the medical school’s inaugural dean. 

The search committee consists of 18 members, including four UT System deans, several health professionals, two UT students and faculty members including Robert Messing, a pharmacy professor and vice provost for biomedical sciences who was named co-chair of the medical school’s steering committee in January. 

Da’marcus Baymon, a biology senior and member of the committee who plans to attend the UT Galveston Medical School in the fall, said he appreciated the chance to help shape the future medical school’s culture so early on in the process.

“The role of dean is critical in setting the tone for a medical school,” Baymon said. “I’m honored to help and to be a part of UT’s history.” 

Baymon said he does not yet know what qualities he hopes to find in a dean.

“I don’t want to limit myself this early on, especially before we begin to discuss candidates as a group,” Baymon said. “We’re all going to need to keep an open mind.” 

The University hired Witt/Kieffer, an executive search firm with experience in finding deans for medical and health sciences schools, to help guide the search process. 

The committee members will attempt to find a dean before the start of the 2013-2014 academic year to prepare for the expected launch of the medical school in 2016. The inaugural class will likely be composed of roughly 50 students.

Captain Melissa Zak of the Los Angeles Police Department speaks at a public forum Tuesday afternoon in the North Office Building. During the forum, Zak discussed her prior law enforcement experience as well as her plans for UT should she be selected as UTPD Chief of Police.

Photo Credit: Becca Gamache | Daily Texan Staff

Captain Melissa Zak of the Los Angeles Police Department said she was ready to leave the City of Angels when UT football beat the University of Southern California at the 2005 Bowl Championship Series.

Seven years later, Zak is entertaining the possibility of a move to Austin, as one of four candidates for UTPD Chief of Police. The selected candidate will replace current UTPD Chief Robert Dahlstrom, who is retiring next month.

The search committee for UTPD Chief of Police held a public forum Tuesday afternoon in which students, faculty and staff were invited to learn more about Zak and her previous experience
in law enforcement.

According to Bob Harkins, the associate vice president for Campus Safety and Security, the search committee of 23 includes two undergraduate and two graduate students, along with other officials, who will ultimately decide on the winning candidate.

“The intent is to get as much exposure for each candidate and for the search committee to be as wide as we can make it,” Harkins said. “The search committee decides based on professional competency, leadership and a personality that fits with us.”

Zak recalled a past experience when she was phoned at 4 a.m. about the murder of two USC
students near campus.

“You look at crime across the U.S. and across university campuses and it’s all the same,” Zak said. “You see crime targeted at students because of what they have, from iPhones and iPads to other expensive technology.“

Zak also talked about her love for the youth, strategies to improve retention within UTPD staff and her overall perception of leadership.

“A team is only as strong as its weakest link,” Zak said. “When you look at a team you always want to identify its strengths and its weaknesses. Retention is a big issue here and I want to work with them and find out why [officers] want to leave and what makes [officers] want to stay.”

Assistant Dean of Students Mary Beth Mercatoris said it is important to pick someone who understands that the safety of the UT community needs to be a team approach.

“We need someone who both understands how to lead us but also someone who is willing to follow and understand how those roles can change under different circumstances,“ Mercatoris said.

I am writing to express my concern and dismay in the way you reported the membership of the search committee for the expedited replacement of outgoing Provost Steven Leslie. I read the names and positions of four of the five very important and high-ranking people who make up the “five other members” (besides President William Powers Jr.) of this committee — name, comma, rank, semicolon — followed by “and a staff member from the provost’s office” (no name, no position). I cannot begin to tell you how that dismissal affects my morale as one of thousands of nameless, invisible, but dedicated and indispensable staff members University-wide. 

I realize that there could be many reasons why the staff member was not named. Perhaps the staff member wishes to remain anonymous. Perhaps the staff member’s identity needs to remain anonymous for internal reasons in the provost’s office. But if you don’t name the staff member who is important enough to be one of the five other committee members, you must tell your readers why that staff person is unnamed. Omitting the name of the staff member in your article without this explanation sends the wrong message. Please make sure in future articles that the same parallel information, if mentioned for one, is included for all.

Marilyn Harris
Administrative associate
Division of Statistics and Scientific Computation

The search committee to find a University provost will meet for the first time Tuesday, beginning a process more expedited than is typical for the high-level position. 

The committee, led by President William Powers Jr., will consist of five other members. In contrast, the search committee that recommended outgoing provost Steven Leslie was a committee of 18. 

Leslie announced his resignation in February after serving for six years.

The process will also be shorter than previous provost searches have been. The search for Leslie began in May 2006, and he was appointed the following January. The search for Leslie’s replacement, which formally begins Tuesday, will be expedited so a new provost can be installed by the time he steps down in August.

“We want to be both thorough and expeditious in the search, given that Provost Leslie will be leaving his post fairly soon,” UT spokesman Gary Susswein said. 

The other five members of the committee are Faculty Council Chairwoman Martha Hilley; Ugeo Williams, Student Government vice president; Linda Hicke, dean of the College of Natural Sciences; Randy Diehl, dean of the College of Liberal Arts; and a staff member from the provost’s office.

At last month’s Faculty Council meeting, Powers spoke of potential difficulties the University would face when trying to find a provost. He said the process would occur on a smaller scale than previous provost searches, largely as a result of “instability on campus.”

“The process of going about looking for a provost with a full, natural search, or normal committee, will be difficult to do,” Powers said at the meeting. “We’re in a tricky situation.”

Tensions between the University and the UT System Board of Regents have been ongoing for the last two years. Two weeks ago, the Board took a 4-3 vote to continue an external review of the UT School of Law Foundation’s relationship with the University. At the meeting, Regent Steve Hicks told his colleagues they might as well take an outright vote on Powers’ continued employment.

“It would be simpler to me, instead of spending the money. If that’s the real goal, let’s just put that on the table and deal with it,” Hicks said. 

Beyond simplifying and expediting the search process, Powers said the scope of the search will also be minimized, and the new provost will likely be an internal hire.

“Given what we’ve been through and what we are going through, it will be very hard to get [a candidate] from off of the campus,” Powers said. “It’s not an impossibility, but it would be very hard.” 

Susswein said the University will likely open an application for the position once the committee begins its work. 

Printed on Tuesday, April 2, 2013 as: University fast-tracks search for new provost 

For Paul Woodruff, stepping down as dean of the School of Undergraduate Studies to return to teaching means changing jobs, but for the school it means an international search for a new dean that could take more than six months.

More than 10 faculty members and students will lead a search committee to find Woodruff’s replacement. These committees are the groups that seek out and hire the University’s president, provost, vice presidents and deans. Architecture professor Larry Speck, who has served as the chair of three vice president search committees in the past decade, sat down with The Daily Texan to talk about his past experience on search committees and explain the process of picking a new dean.

Speck most recently served as the chair on the search committee for the Vice President of Student Affairs, a hunt that started in October 2011 and ended in May 2012 when Powers selected one of three recommended applicants, Gage Paine of UT-San Antonio.

Before the search, Speck said search committees for deans are typically composed of appointed students and faculty members. Speck said the college in question gets to elect around five members and President William Powers Jr. will appoint several more. Among the appointees, Speck said usually one dean from another college or school is included. In the case of the new dean for the School of Undergraduate Studies, which does not have professors in its department, it is not clear what faculty will serve on the committee and if they will be involved.

Once the members are appointed, the committee for a new dean appoints a chair and receives advice.

“They get some advice from the president and whoever else is relevant about what the criteria is for this position and what we are looking for,” Speck said.

Speck said the search committee will then start posting job descriptions and waiting for applications.

In the search for the vice president of student affairs, Speck said the committee had about 100 applications before the winter break.

“We first made one quick cut of people who just weren’t qualified,” Speck said. We said ‘Here is the criteria, and theses candidates just don’t match it.’”

After that, Speck said the search committee read all the other applications and scored them over winter break. Speck said the committee had come up with almost a dozen criteria points that each candidate was scored on.

“We saw which ones came to the top and we had a discussion of those people,” Speck said. “Then we narrowed it down to about nine people to invite to what we call airport interviews.”

Airport interviews are a secretive part of the process. In the search for the vice president of student affairs, Speck said the search committee invited all nine candidates to Austin for a weekend. The committee met with each candidate in secret. The meetings were held at hotels close to the airport and not on campus.

“They don’t have to tell their University or their employer, ‘I’m thinking about taking another job,” Speck said. “That’s why we keep it completely confidential and the interview out at the hotel and not on campus, so somebody doesn’t see them and say ‘What are you doing on campus?’ and make it a very awkward position.”

Speck said one of the challenging parts of the search committee is organizing the schedules of all nine candidates and the entire committee to be available for one weekend of interviewing. While arranging this around busy schedules was challenging, Speck said it is a useful strategy.

“What was really good about it actually is that you saw everybody in close proximity,” Speck said. “So you were able to make those comparisons pretty easily.”

After that point, in the search for vice president of student affairs, Speck said the committee was able to narrow it down to four people.

“We brought them into the campus and they go through a two or three day thing where they talk to everybody and their brother that might have anything to do with their job,” Speck said.

From this, Speck said the committee gets feedback from the faculty, the students and the president. The final step is to submit three unranked recommendations to Powers, who makes the final decision.

The road ahead Speck said the long and intense process is taken very seriously.

“All of these would be international searches,” Speck said. “You’re trying to get the very best from anywhere in the world. They take a long time. This is true at most Universities, this is just the way it is in academia when you are hiring people at this level.”

Woodruff, who announced he was returning to teaching on Wednesday, said he expected an interim dean to be announced sometime within the next week. Speck said sometimes the interim dean becomes the next dean, but that is not always the case.

“All this committee stuff, it is a clean slate,” Speck said. “The committee does what the committee does. The President appoints an interim, but that person may have intentionally been appointed because they weren’t a candidate.”

Woodruff’s announcement comes at a time when the school is expecting a 66 percent increase in student enrollment. Despite this, Speck said the transition from Woodruff, to interim dean and back to a new permanent dean will be seamless.

“The University does this all the time,” Speck said. “We have one person who is really good at their job and very responsible and then they decide they’re going to move on and do something else, so we replace them and it happens all the time.”

The search committee for the new vice president for Student Affairs has chosen four finalists out of 77 applicants to visit campus in April.

The position became available when vice president for Student Affairs Juan Gonzalez announced in July that he would no longer serve in an administrative capacity in order to focus on teaching in the College of Education. Each candidate will interact with the University community and to be interviewed further by the search committee.

Architecture professor Larry Speck is chair of the search committee that includes students appointed by President William Powers Jr., faculty members and administrators. Speck said the search committee is looking for a candidate who is student-oriented and will be an innovative leader. “I think there is a sense that this is a good time for change,” Speck said. “I don’t think we want someone who will just maintain the status quo.”

Chris Miller, Vice President for Student Affairs, Marquette University

Miller said he is committed to minimizing barriers to student success, such as his work to increase access to mental health screenings to help before depression becomes debilitating.

“It’s about being able to focus on areas where we can predict those kinds of things,” Miller said. “Approaching it in an open and honest way.”

Marquette University is a Catholic, Jesuit college in Milwaukee, Wisc. with about 11,500 enrolled students.
Miller said it is important to engage faculty in order to engage students and said this can be done through efforts like learning communities, in which dorms are organized by major and have a live-in faculty member who acts as a liaison between the students and the school.

He said one of the main roles of student affairs is to bolster the university’s academic mission.

“We do that throughout of the classroom experiences, but they have to have definitive learning outcomes which can be measured,” Miller said.

Ajay Nair, Senior Associate Vice Provos For Student Affairs, University of Pennsylvania

Nair said he is a regular attendant at student programs because students are central to the decision-making process.

“In my experience, students have incredible power to affect change at an institution,” Nair said. “In many ways it’s my job to help shape that and move that along and advocate for students with the administration.”

The University of Pennsylvania is a private college that currently has about 24,000 enrolled students. Nair said the campus is similar to UT-Austin in terms of the active student life and the caliber of the students. Nair said he is interested in the University’s ambitious goals to improve retention and to become the best public research university in the country.

Budget cuts present a challenge to universities across the country, Nair said, but universities should always approach programs with finances in mind, regardless of good or bad economic times.

“It’s up to the leaders and managers to look at creative ways to manage money and streamline programs to enhance student life,” Nair said.

Gage Paine, Vice President for Student Affairs, University of Texas at San Antonio

The classroom should be relevant in every part of a students life, Paine said.

“For me, the educational experience ought to be one that engages students on multiple levels,” Paine said. “Intellectual, personal development — they’re halves of a whole.”

About 30,000 students are currently enrolled at UTSA. The campus opened in 1970, which Paine said means student affairs are still in building mode, whereas UT-Austin’s student affairs are well established. She said this provides an opportunity if she were to be hired.

“One of the things that can happen is people can say ‘We’ve always done it this way,’ and a new person can come in and question,” Paine said.

She said it is important that college is a good learning experience that is vibrant and exciting in all aspects, and student affairs is an integral part in initiating and maintaining that type of environment.

“I finally figured out that my job was to make the university work for the students and the people who work there,” Paine said.

Francisco Hernandez, Vice Chancellor for Students, University of Hawaii at Manoa

Hernandez currently oversees admissions, financial aid and student life for a campus of about 20,000 that is the top
research university.

Hernandez said if hired, he would contribute to University goals, specifically maintaining and enhancing the University’s national and international reputation. Hernandez said this could be done by partnering with other parts of campus, such as academics.

“We can lead by example in the sense that all of our programs are excellent,” Hernandez said.

He said a highlight from his career is when he helped create centers for women, minority students and disabled students at the University of California at Berkeley when he served there from 1980 to 1994.

“I’ve gained a lot of knowledge by facing many similar challenges that UT may face,” Hernandez said. “I’m especially interested in assisting the campus meet the needs of the diverse students body that it has.”