|Jennifer Bol, a
consultant from Spencer Stuart, the agency selected to assist the
Presidential Search Committee in recruiting Wesleyan's new president, asks
the Wesleyan audience what they are seeking in the university's new
Presidential Search Forum Provides Insight
Pam Tatge wants a university president who has
traveled or studied abroad. Michael Whitcomb wants a president who respects
a diverse staff and student body. Suzy Taraba wants a president who values a
liberal arts education.
These were all suggestions presented during a presidential search open forum
Sept. 29 in Russell House. Wesleyan President Douglas Bennet '59, P'87, P'94
announced his decision that the 2006-07 academic year will be the
final year of his presidency.
The forum was set up by members of the Presidential Search Committee to hear
views and gain valuable feedback to be used in the search process.
“We’re here to find a leader who will thrive here and inspire our staff,
faculty and alumni,” said Presidential Search Committee Chair Kofi Appenteng
'81, P'07. “Doug Bennet’s leadership has strengthened the university
considerably during the past eleven years, and the Presidential Search
Committee is seeking to build upon this momentum.”
The attendees also met Jennifer Bol and Michele Haertel, consultants from
Spencer Stuart, the agency selected to assist the Presidential Search
Committee and the Board of Trustees in identifying and successfully
recruiting Wesleyan's 16th president.
Bol led the forum, requesting that attendees speak about what qualities
they’d seek in a new president. Ideas from the audience were numerous and
at left, speaking, Suzy Taraba ’77, university archivist and head of Special
Collections, said she hopes the new president will respect and honor
Wesleyan’s unique history with the trend of mainstreaming in mind.
“I’m looking for a president who can understand that Wesleyan’s history is
terrific and not something to be ashamed of,” she said.
Carol Scully, director of Foundation and Corporate Relations, suggested that
Wesleyan and the new president continue to actively promote the value of a
liberal arts education with policy makers and funders of higher education.
"We have noticed that funding for the liberal arts has declined at several
major national foundations," she said. "We need to insure that liberal arts institutions
are part of the broader conversation about higher education in this country."
Pam Tatge ‘84, director of the Center for the Arts, stressed that the new
president should know the importance of using the arts in interdisciplinary
ways, have experience working abroad, and have an interest in developing a
positive relationship with the Middletown community.
“We’ve had a good track record under Doug Bennet’s legacy, and we need a new
president who also can see the community relationship as an asset,” she
Makaela Kingsley ‘98, associate director of Reunion Leadership Giving,
suggested that having some sort of connection to Wesleyan would be a plus; and Faraneh Carnegie ‘05, assistant director of Regional Programs and Networks,
pointed out that the new president should value and respect Wesleyan’s
“I’d hope the new president would like to continue to insure diversity among
students, staff and faculty,” said Michael Whitcomb, director of
Bol also asked the audience to describe the culture of Wesleyan.
Taraba explained that Wesleyan students tend to be “interested in
everything,” and Camille Dolansky, associate director of Parent Programs,
described Wesleyan’s students as “nice and intelligent." John Driscoll ‘62,
alumni director, summed up the student body in one word.
“They’re feisty,” he said. “We think of arguing as a sport. We get very
excited about points of view.”
Others said they wanted a president who values athletics, racial and
economic diversity, had good listening and public speaking skills, values
alumni from different backgrounds, enjoys spending time with students, who
has the ability to back up why decisions are made and someone who
understands the economics of higher education.
“I hope our next president will understand the vision of the university and
get people excited and keep moving forward towards this vision,” said Pat
Tully, associate university librarian.
Paula Lawson, associate provost, hopes the committee doesn’t rule out
someone from a business or law background.
“This is the 21st century and we can think more broadly,” she said. “It’s OK
to think outside the box.”
For more information on the Presidential Search Committee, go to:
Current committee members have established a Web site to collect
confidential nominations and feedback from the community at
By Olivia Bartlett, The Wesleyan Connection