Philosophy Professor Jana Sawicki was on the presidential search committee that selected Morty 5 years ago. She was kind enough to provide these observations on the process.

[T]he search had an exhaustive and extremely professional quality to it. We worked very, very hard; the recruitment strategy was well-designed and very energetically executed. Because there had been some concern that the previous presidential search could have gone better, recruiting a wide range of excellent candidates was a top priority. In the final analysis I felt confident that the cream rose to the top. At the time I believed that our top candidates all could have done an effective job as presidents of Williams — some were stronger in one area than another.

In retrospect though, I’m convinced that we made the best choice. Morty has been a very effective president: he’s assumed a national leadership position as a spokesperson for the liberal arts; he has his finger on the pulse of Williams (he’s also a data man — always giving us quantitative profiles of the College); he’s made excellent appointments in Hopkins Hall and in the College at large. He raises funds like a demon. He’s raised the morale of the faculty; succeeded in spearheading curricular change — a very, very difficult thing to do . . .

All of which seems perfectly sensible and is consistent with everything else that I have heard. I also believe it provides evidence for the claim that, although Morty was the best choice for Williams, options 2, 3, 4 and 5 would have done a fine job as well. In other words, it is wrong to believe that extreme competition for the alledgedly few candidates who could possibly do a decent job as president of a NESCAC school is the driving force behind the increase in salaries over the last 20 years. Related dicussion here and here.

There may be good reasons why NESCAC schools should pay their presidents so much more now relative to what they paid them 20 years ago, but a decrease in the number and quality of potential candidates is not one of them.

Thanks to Professor Sawicki for taking the time to provide us with her observations on the search process.

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