Panel named to pick Carter’s successor

By Alexandra Kukulka

After President Warrick L. Carter announced his one-year early retirement on May 8, as previously reported by The Chronicle, a presidential advisory panel was created to screen potential candidates and make recommendations to the board of trustees, according to Allen Turner, chairman of the board.

The 22-member panel, composed of faculty, staff administrators and trustees, will recommend between two and four candidates to the board for consideration, Turner said.

“The board of trustees wanted to get the widest possible group of people representing different interests in the college,” he said. “It’s designed to have a broad spectrum of interest and ideas about the next president.”

The panel members are Robin Bargar, dean of School of Media Arts; Robert Blandford, assistant professor, School of Fine and Performing Arts; Nancy Day, chair of the Journalism Department; John Gehron, trustee; Ken Gotsch, vice president of Business Affairs and chief financial officer; alumna Joan Hammel, trustee and president of Community Alliance and Action Network National Board; Ted Hardin, associate professor, School of Media Arts; Chester Kamin, trustee; Richard Kiphart, trustee and chair of Presidential Advisory Panel; Paul Knapp, trustee; Marcia Lazar, trustee; Sylvia Neil, trustee; Cassandra Norris, president of the Student Government Association; Douglas Reichert Powell, associate professor, School of Liberal Arts and Sciences; Barry Sabloff, trustee; Ellen Stone Belic, trustee; Arthur Sussman, trustee; Allen M. Turner, chairman of the board of trustees; Diana Vallera, president of Part-time Faculty Association; Allison Grant Williams, trustee; Hugh Williams, trustee; and Sharon Wilson-Taylor, dean of students.

Panel elections were held Aug. 24 to fill three faculty positions and one position for a department chairman. The faculty elected Blandford, Hardin, Powell and Day to the panel, which was announced on Aug. 9 with the exception of the faculty and chairman. The group will meet Sept. 5 for the first time as a full panel.

“[The Sept. 5 meeting] will be to approve or think about three things: what the college is, what the opportunities are for a new person and what kind of characteristics are important to the committee in a new president,” Turner said.

According to him, the professional search firm Isaacson Miller, which has dents, has been hired to aid with the search for Carter’s successor.

All panel members signed a confidentiality agreement “for integrity in the conduct of the search,” according to an Aug. 9 collegewide email Turner sent. When several panel members were asked to comment they declined.

Although the panel will be making the recommendations privately, the Columbia community still has opinions about who the next president should be.

“I think our next president needs to have, first of all, as his or her highest priority, a focus on improving the academics of the school and making sure all the programs that we offer fit with the mission and continue to evolve the college in a positive way,” said Christopher Shaw, assistant professor in the Science and Mathematics Department.

According to Louis Silverstein, emeritus professor in the Humanities, History and Social Sciences Department, the president should be open to conversations and work with people who have different perspectives. He also said he or she should raise money to fund programs, instead of relying on tuition, and understand the significance of the arts.

“He or she should have a background in education, particularly in the kind of education that Columbia has always focused on, which is a nontraditional way of reaching out to students,” Silverstein said.

Michael Bright, administrative assistant and student worker supervisor in the Film and Video Department, said he believes the next president should be someone who isn’t from the corporate world and can bring resources to the college.

According to Bright, president of United Staff of Columbia College, a part-time faculty member is part of the panel because it is in adjuncts’ contract, while it is not in the staff’s.

“We are disappointed by [the contract], but that could change,” he said. “I haven’t had that conversation with [senior vice president Warren Chapman] yet.”

Along with bringing students to the college, Corina Ferrer-Marcano, president of the International Student Organization, said she would like to see a president who shows more consideration for students.

Corrina Ferrer-Marcano, senior journalism major said she believes email and Facebook are the best way to communicate the selection process with the college. However, Renegades President Abby Cress said she trusts the panel to make good decisions and does not see a reason for communication.

“Some of the characteristics I would like to see in our next president [are to] have him or her be very present on campus,” Cress said. “We need someone with experience [who] knows what they are doing.”