University News

Goal to name new president by spring

By
Senior Staff Writer
Friday, September 16, 2011

The University will likely appoint a permanent successor to President Ruth Simmons this spring, Chancellor Thomas Tisch ’76 said Thursday.

Tisch said the search for a successor will incorporate input from the community, honoring the University protocol for selecting a new president. Historically, a committee of Corporation members and a committee of students, faculty and staff have worked together to identify and choose a replacement.

The Corporation, the University’s highest governing body, will be outlining the search process and “reaching out to the community” in the next few weeks, Tisch said. The search process will likely be detailed before the Oct. 20-22 Corporation meeting.

Students not directly involved in the committee will be encouraged to weigh in during the search, Tisch said.

Simmons said planning a successful transition has always been important to her. She has been in communication with a Corporation committee to plan her succession “in the best possible way” since before she decided to step down.

She added that she will not be directly involved in the search for a new president. But if the Corporation seeks her input, she said she will tell candidates how “absolutely wonderful it is to be at Brown.”.

Both Simmons and Tisch said they anticipate a relatively smooth search for a new president and expressed confidence in finding a replacement by this spring. “There will be long lines of people who want to be president of this institution,” Simmons said.

Chancellor Emeritus Stephen Robert ’62 P’91, who chaired the Corporation committee that chose Simmons, said the University will have an easier time finding someone qualified because of Simmons’ presidency. “She has made it easier to find her replacement because she’s elevated Brown’s position in a way that makes it attractive,” Robert said.

Ralanda Nelson ’12, president of the Undergraduate Council of Students, expressed confidence in the University’s ability to find a capable successor.

“They picked President Simmons — I don’t doubt that we can pick somebody great,” she said.

Tisch said he expects to see strong internal and external candidates for the position, a sentiment Robert echoed.

“They can come from Brown or they can come from a university in China,” Robert said. “We just want to have the best person and not place artificial restrictions on our search.”

Simmons said presidential searches usually take a long time because universities use the search to evaluate their standing and consider new directions. But she said she does not expect this to be the case during the impending search process.

“I’d like to think that at this juncture, Brown is certainly not in crisis,” she said. “This process will go smoothly … because of the state the University is in today.”

 

— With additional reporting by Elizabeth Carr