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Presidential Search Documents

Many thanks to Chemistry Professor (and secretary of the presidential search committee 5 years ago) Hodge Markgraf ’52 for taking the time to answer some of my questions about the search process. Hodge pointed out that the search was thorough and professional. It involved a serious examiniation of 150 candidates, many telephone and in-person interviews, and meetings with the finalists by the full board of trustees.

Hodge was also kind enough to supply copies of many of the updates that Ray Henze ’74 (chair of the board of trustees at the time) sent to the entire community. (The College, or even WSO, really ought to archive documents like this in some public space. Future historians will thank you!)

As an example, here is the final letter that Henze sent.

page 1

page 2

Alas, the record that Hodge has access to seems to be somewhat incomplete in that there are no updates from August 1999 through January 2000. (This is consistent with Record coverage of the period, so perhaps no updates were sent, although Henze’s letter from August does promise them.) I am especially interested in this period since I am curious about how many candidates made it through various stages of the process. In particular, how many had interviews with any of the members of the committee? How many were flown out to Williamstown? How many made the second to last round? How many made the last round (which involved meeting the entire board of trustees)? Anyone with knowledge of these (public, I think) questions should feel free to comment.

I am also interested in some non-public aspects of the process. In particular, how close was the final decision? From what I have heard, Morty was the consensus first choice, but there were some other candidates who various members of the search committee felt might have been better. Of course, it would be extremely surprising if this were not the case. Rarely is a search committee in full agreement. I am also curious about what happened to these other finalists, the ones who would have gotten the job if Morty had decided to stay in sunny California. How many of them went on to college presidencies elsewhere? I would suspect that some did but that most did not. College President is one of those jobs, like Congressman, for which there are many more highly qualified applicants than there are positions to fill.

Why does any of this matter? Defenders of (excessive) presidential pay have tried to make the case that the particular set of skills needed to serve as president of Williams are very rare and that, therefore, the College needs to pay the big bucks in order to entice someone who fits the bill. This just isn’t true. There may be reasons why Williams needs to pay its president over $400,000 per year, but a lack of strong candidates for the job is not one of them.

Critics might assert that the only reason that there were so many qualified applicants is because of the money that the College pays. I disagree with this, but getting more of the actual facts will serve to move forward the discussion. I know that you can hardly wait!

If you served on the committee, you can expect to hear from me in the coming months. There are many members of the Williams community who will be interested in what you have to say. Special thanks, once again, to Professors Sawicki and Markgraf for the help that they have already provided.

As always, I stand second to none in my praise of the excellent job that Morty has done as president of Williams. Kudo’s to Ray Henze, Hodge Markgraf, Jana Sawicki and the other members of the Search Committee for selecting him.

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#1 Comment By David Kane’s SuperEgo On December 30, 2004 @ 11:43 am

…I wonder what your hiring process was like…

…should you have gotten the job?…

…excessive pay? do you really deserve what they get?….

…mixed-race children sure are cute…

…man, if Morty had tons of free time and no better way to spend it than by running a blog, it would sure be funny if he called up people that know you and asked you about when you got hired…

…the shoe would be on the other foot…

#2 Comment By Todd On December 30, 2004 @ 12:14 pm


If you’re going to continue on your little crusade, at least omit the obligatory last paragraph on how great you think Morty is and how your previously posted backhanded compliment somehow means that you are “second to none” in praise of him. Even if that were true, you are also second to none in criticism of Morty, and the sum of the “praise” component of your postings so far would easily fall in the low negatives. So do me and everyone else a favor and end the hypocrisy.

Also, I think it would be informative if you posted your OWN salary information, in addition to the amount of time per week you spend EphBlogging. Something tells me you’d have enough time per week there to contribute to more than a few corporate boards.

#3 Comment By Jeff Zeeman On December 30, 2004 @ 2:05 pm

I think the sort of cost-benefit analysis you have done in the past doesn’t really address the true value of Morty (or any other college president for that matter). For better or for worse, the primary job of a college president nowadays is that of a fundraiser. Morty is working to raise $400 million in the current capital campaign, or $80 million per year. If he is one percent more effective at raising money than the next-best candidate would have been, which seems to me to be pretty conservative (assuming that the board did, in fact, choose the best candidate), that means he is worth 800,000 per year based on fund-raising acumen alone. It’s sort of like the debate at Harvard about the pay of the money managers over there, which is many millions per year for the top managers. But considering that Harvard’s endowment has grown by the billions during a time of slow economic growth, can anyone doubt that they are worth it, even if numerous nearly-as-competent money managers would kill for the opportunity to manage Harvard’s assets, and would be willing to do it at half the cost?

I realize that this is a cynical view of a college presidency, but I think most boards would agree that the first priority of a college president is to insure the financial viability of the institution.

Happy New Year everyone!

#4 Comment By (d)avid On December 30, 2004 @ 2:20 pm

The above two comments strike me as unfair. Bringing up David’s children (and their race) is inappropriate and contributes nothing to the discussion (and all the more craven because it was done anonymously).

David’s salary is irrelevant. He does not run a non-profit organization, so his salary is not a matter of public record. Kane Capital Management is not an educational institution we attended, so alums and students and faculty members have no unique interest in the management of the fund.

Colleges and universities are different from other institutions. Financial disclosure is required because of their tax exempt status. The ties to the stakeholder groups are tighter (in part, because alums are asked for money every year) and the groups take interest in the management of the institution. Discussions about Morty’s compensation do not strike me as out of bounds. The frequency of the posts is perhaps irksome, but this particular post has new information.

If readers would like posts on different subjects, then they ought to take initiative. Authorship is easy to gain and David has been good about posting material from readers in the past.

#5 Comment By Todd On December 30, 2004 @ 3:24 pm

Not to say that the “SuperEgo” provides relevant commentary, or that anonymous taunting is something I approve of, but I believe he was referring to this post:


in which David evaluated the “smartness” of Michael Ryan based on Ryan’s similarities to David Kane, and on his likelihood of producing Kane-like “purple-mountain beautiful” children.

As for my own comment, I’ll admit that the latter half was perhaps slightly unfair. However, as you say, the frequency of postings on Morty’s salary is irritating. I think that Morty is tremendously valuable to the college, and that his compensation is fair. He is paid as much as presidents at comparable institutions (if not less), and I think the single-minded heckling of Morty is uncalled for. I might add that if we compared Morty to Hank Payne, it might be more apparent exactly why it is that Williams had such an extensive search for Morty, why they made absolutely sure they got the best man, and why it was willing to pay “so much.” I don’t think that any of this is cause for outrage or extensive investigative reporting. I’m with Bradburd. Get a life, Kane. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Regardless, the main point of my post was that if you’re going to criticize Morty, then criticize him, but don’t try to whitewash it by saying that you’re his biggest fan at the same time.

And lastly, what this has to do with me posting to EphBlog is beyond me. Comments are for commenting on other peoples’ posts, and they can be critical. If I wanted to post I’d certainly ask, but I have my own blog, thanks.

#6 Comment By David Kane ’88 On December 30, 2004 @ 3:46 pm

Perhaps I have not been clear enough.

The issue of excessive presidential salaries at small liberal arts colleges in general, and at Williams in particular, has nothing to do with President Schapiro.

In particular, if Hank Payne had stayed on, he would be getting paid more or less what Morty is getting now. (The salary trends seem relatively stable over the last 10 years.) If Morty left tomorrow, his successor would get paid more or less what Morty gets paid now. All my comments/criticism/complaints/observations/rants would still hold true.

This is not about Schapiro (or Payne or Oakley). This is about the reasons behind the rise in pay for senior administrators in the past and the raises to come in the future.

It is not obvious (to me) that it is a good thing that the President at Williams now gets paid 6 times what a junior professor makes whereas 25 years ago it was more like 3 times. If Todd (or anyone) thinks that this is clearly a good development, that this makes Williams a stronger and better college, I would be pleased to read his arguments.

So far, my main contribution to this discussion has been to debunk, successfully I think, two arguments offered by defenders of the status quo: that private sector salaries have impact on administrator salaries and that the pool of qualified presidential prospects is small, even smaller now than it was 25 years ago. Both these empirical claims are, I believe, false. I would be eager to consider evidence to the contrary.

I have said before, and I’ll say again, I do not think that the College should decrease Morty’s salary. The College has made a moral (and perhaps legal) committment to Morty that is binding for years to come.

#7 Comment By Aidan’s Conscience On December 31, 2004 @ 2:08 am

Alright, permit me to offer another perspective that may clarify Todd’s frustration.

Essentially, DK has admitted that he’s interested in a particular market anomaly- the relative overcompensation of a specialized type of employee in an extremely complex market. That’s fine, and if this were PresidentialCompensationblog.com, or HigherEducationFinanceblog.com, his perseveration might be suitable or even admirable. But that’s not the case- this is supposed to be a blog about all things Williams, and currently there seems to be a bit of digression.

Granted, I’m not being completely fair, because DK has located his interest in the more general question of ‘What were the qualities of the presidential search a few years back, and what can we learn from it?’ Honestly, I don’t find this question especially compelling, and my guess is that many ephblog readers wouldn’t either. And more specifically to the treatment of this case, DK seems to be obsessing about it. Morty’s awesome, his monetary compensation is reasonable given how much he’s brought to the college (Yes, DK, I realize your entire thesis is that it’s not reasonable, but it’s just not a very powerful point, and, as was argued before, one could tenably state Williams is lucky to have him for as little as we do), and people don’t really seem to care.

I would argue that the real problem is that more germaine issues are being ignored. I can name a couple really quickly- the issue of race relations on campus and the paucity of minority faculty; the degree of involvement of Williams students in activist causes and the local community; and, as one studly dude recently posted on the WSO forums, the federal cuts to Pell grants and what Williams’ reaction might be.

As a good economist, DK might say, if you don’t like what I’m doing, go found EphraimBlog.com and do it your way. That’s fine- but I would argue that as someone who has founded ephblog as a specifically *public* forum, you have a bit of a responsibility to at least attempt to reflect the interests of the larger Eph community, and not pursue your own vanity projects. This isn’t Kaneblog, it’s Ephblog. Kaneblog would be fine, but don’t use Ephblog as a facade for it.

#8 Comment By David Kane On December 31, 2004 @ 11:15 am

Todd writes:

If you’re going to continue on your little crusade, at least omit the obligatory last paragraph on how great you think Morty is and how your previously posted backhanded compliment somehow means that you are “second to none” in praise of him. Even if that were true,

It is true. No one has written more public words of praise for Morty’s performance than I have.

you are also second to none in criticism of Morty,

Maybe. Sometimes there seems to be an unhealthy Dear Morty cult of hero worship, the members of which object to any criticism, constructive or not. To be clear, on the issue of his salary, Morty is not at fault. In all likelihood, he probably didn’t even negotiate (much) for the salary. The College made him an offer, consistent with what it was paying Payne and with the salaries at other NESCAC shools, and he accepted.

I have been critical of Morty on the issue of his service on the board of MMC because I think that that service violates terms in the faculty handbook. Either his and Dean Roseman’s board memberships should end or the faculty handbook should be amended.

and the sum of the “praise” component of your postings so far would easily fall in the low negatives.

Other than the issue of board service, I do not think that I have made significant criticisms of Morty’s performance. Feel free to cite some examples.

So do me and everyone else a favor and end the hypocrisy.

It is not “hypocrisy” to say that Morty has done a great job of topics A and B, a good job of topics C and D, and a poor job on E and F. Why can’t I or anyone else agree with some of the decisions that Morty makes and disagree with others?

Is it your claim is that I don’t really mean the things that I write in praise of Morty’s performance? Well, I do. Do you think that I am lying when I write that “I do not expect that Williams will be lucky enough to have a significantly better president in my lifetime.” Well, I’m not.

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