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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Presidential Search Committee looks to students for guidance

<ard of Trustees has announced the formation of a Presidential Search Committee to find a suitable replacement for President Robert A. Oden Jr., who announced Sept. 25 that he would retire at the end of the current academic year.

The committee is chaired by two members of the Board of Trustees, Jack Eugster ’67 and Cathy Paglia ’74, according to an announcement sent to students by the committee last Thursday. In all, 17 individuals make up the committee, including five trustees, two administrative staff members, two alumni, four faculty members and four students, the announcement said.

The first task of the committee will be to come up with a detailed, written job description for the position of president, according to Joe Hargis, associate vice president for external relations, who serves as the committee’s non-voting secretary. The committee hopes to achieve this by mid-December and begin forming a pool of potential candidates by the end of 2009.

“Our task is to get a perspective on the most important priorities of the college over the next decade and what kind of traits a president would need,” Hargis said.

In order to accomplish this, the committee has attained the services of a consulting firm, Academic Search Inc., which will “guide the committee through the process,” Hargis said. The president of Academic Search, Thomas Courtice, will serve as Carleton’s consultant.

A search firm can help not only with the search process itself, but also with attracting the best group of candidates, Courtice said.

Courtice, who himself served as president of Ohio Wesleyan University for 27 years before becoming a consultant, stressed that each college has different requirements for a president and that the job description the committee produces will reflect Carleton’s “unique ethos.

“This is Carleton’s president, and that makes a whale of a difference,” Courtice said.

Next week Courtice will visit Carleton to meet with members of the Carleton community and get a better sense of what community members want in a new president, the announcement said.

“My job is in large part to listen to what makes Carleton special and project that,” Courtice said.

The Carleton Student Association (CSA) is not directly involved in the process, CSA president and committee member McKay Duer ’10 said. However, the four student members of the committee get full votes, and students in particular will be “canvassed extensively” in the near future, committee co-chair Cathy Paglia said. The committee held a student listening panel on Thursday to garner student insight on priorities for the next president.

“Carleton is a very student-centered place,” Courtice said, noting that most schools of Carleton’s size would have fewer students on the search committee.

The ideal deadline for the transfer of power is July 1, 2010, the start of Carleton’s 2010-2011 fiscal year, Courtice said. Once a job description has been written, Carleton will begin to advertise for candidates. Though it is too early to identify candidates, Courtice cited a survey that showed that the most common backgrounds of college presidents are previous positions as college president, school provost or other academic leadership posts. Oden’s experience reflects this trend, having served as the president of Kenyon College in Ohio before coming to Carleton in 2002.

While the search for Oden’s successor will follow a similar pattern to previous presidential searches, details will differ, Paglia said.

“Carleton has changed, and the times have changed,” she said.

Paglia emphasized the importance of the search in the lives of trustees.

“I think it’s an awesome responsibility,” Paglia said. “It’s the most important thing I’m doing with my time.”

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