VP for int’l affairs search narrowed to shortlist

By
Monday, April 16, 2007

The field of candidates to be Brown’s first vice president for international affairs has been narrowed to a list of 8 to 10, members of the search committee told The Herald.

On-campus interviews of those candidates should be finished by April 19, said Assistant Provost Shelley Stephenson, who serves on the search committee. Following a second round of campus visits by a narrowed field of three to five candidates, the committee hopes to make a choice by early May, Stephenson said, though the selection would not necessarily be announced immediately.

The creation of a new vice-presidential position is a central component of the University’s formal internationalization effort. The initiative kicked off in October 2006 with the appointment of an internationalization committee, chaired by Provost David Kertzer ’69 P’95 P’98, to propose ways Brown can improve its international profile.

The vice president for international affairs search committee is one of seven working groups that have been formed under the auspices of the internationalization committee. The others – focusing on such fields as global health and curriculum, language instruction and study abroad – will present possible areas of focus to the parent committee beginning in late April. The full committee’s recommendations could be released as soon as the end of May, according to Stephenson.

The University received over 300 applications for the position, and the current group was chosen from that pool for first-round interviews, Stephenson said. She said the search committee has tried to focus on candidates from a range of backgrounds, especially those with multiple areas of expertise.

“All of the candidates have a familiarity with academia, and most also have a familiarity with one or more of the other worlds from which they come,” Stephenson said, citing diplomacy and work for international non-governmental organizations as examples of candidates’ past experience.

“The strongest candidates … are people who have come with more than one type of background,” she added.

“I think we’ve defined the job in the way that is pretty challenging,” said search committee member Richard Spies, executive vice president for planning and senior adviser to the president. “It’s going to require an overall set of skills or experiences that will allow somebody to do a lot of different things.”

Both Stephenson and Spies declined to say if any of the candidates who received first-round interviews come from within the University.

Philip Altbach, director of Boston College’s Center for International Higher Education, said internationalization is “the flavor of the month” in academia, and many other universities have already created similar positions.

“This is not a tremendous, innovative move on the part of Brown,” Altbach said.

But the position has generated strong interest, Stephenson said, because it is at the vice-presidential level and because the incoming vice president will be able to build on the internationalization committee’s work.

Altbach agreed that the position’s vice-presidential status at Brown is significant.

“Three cheers for Brown for doing it at that level,” he said. “It means that Brown is taking it

seriously.”