The Search Begins

June 1, 2003

Duke's new presidential search committee "hasn't discussed a single name yet," according to its leader, but has received more than a hundred letters or messages with names, advice, and comments from members of the Duke community.

" I'm very optimistic," said Robert K. Steel '73, vice chair of the board of trustees and chair of the presidential search committee, after the committee held its first meeting in mid-May. The committee comprises nineteen members, including Steel and Sara S. Beale, Charles L. B. Lowndes Professor of Law, who serves as vice chair of the search committee. N. Allison Haltom '72, vice president and university secretary, is the executive vice chair of the committee and serves ex-officio, as do Peter M. Nicholas '64, chair of the board of trustees, and Nancy B. Allen, chair of the Academic Council.

The search committee includes trustees Daniel T. Blue J.D. '73; Paula Phillips Burger '67, A.M. '74; Kimberly J. Jenkins '76, M.Ed. '77, Ph.D. '80; Sally Dalton Robinson '55; Lanty L. Smith LL.B. '67; and G. Richard Wagoner '75. Faculty members on the committee are Jeffrey Krolik, professor of electrical and computer engineering at the Pratt School and department director of graduate studies; Prasad Kasibhatla, associate professor in the Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences; John Simon, chemistry professor and department chair; and Philip Stewart, Romance studies professor.

The search committee also includes students Devon MacWilliam, who represents Duke Student Government, and Louis D'Amico, who represents the Graduate and Professional Student Council; alumni representative Ruth Wade Ross '68, who is past president of the Duke Alumni Association; and staff representative Jacqueline Looney, who is associate dean for graduate student affairs and associate vice provost for academic diversity.

At the committee's first meeting, the members agreed to a four-stage process for producing one or more names for the trustees to consider in time to elect Duke's ninth president by February 2004. The committee has now embarked on the second stage, which is to identify the qualities it desires in the new president. It plans to publicize these "criteria and qualifications" on Duke's website and elsewhere by the end of June. Then committee members will focus on vetting possible candidates and, finally, on narrowing its list to just one or a few names for consideration by the full board of trustees. Steel emphasizes that the committee will not share its deliberations with anyone, including other trustees, until it has finished its assignment.

Stressing that "it's an open field now," Steel invites further comments from faculty and staff members, students, alumni, and others via e-mail at pres-search@duke.edu.