At this mornings Ephraim Williams Society breakfast, Morty gave an update on the Presidential Search. First, the Search Committee is looking at 8-10 candidates in a serios fashion, checking resumes and so on. That seems consistent with the recent update:

The Committee has followed up on submitted names and held frequent conference calls to review the pool. We gathered in Williamstown yesterday to review our progress to date.

That progress, we are glad to report, has been substantial. We have held almost 40 meetings with potential candidates. Small teams representing each segment of our membership — students, trustees, faculty, and staff — have traveled across the country to talk personally with the men and women who aspire to lead Williams in the years ahead.

We will now conduct follow-up interviews with the most promising candidates prior to submitting the results of our work to the Board of Trustees, which has the responsibility of naming the next President.

As always, Morty is more forthcoming than official publications from the College.

Second, Morty (who is not involved in the process directly) reported that the Committee would probably reduce the pool to 2 or 3 finalists in the next “month or two.” Third, Morty mentioned that timing was always difficult to predict, but he thought that we might have an announcement before Septenber 1, with a start date for the new President of either September or next January.


1) I still hope that the Committee selects Cappy Hill ’76, for all the reasons given previously. But, given this news, I would say that Cappy’s appointment is somewhat less likely than it appeared 6 months ago. The key issue is timing. Cappy has only been president of Vassar for 3 years. If she leaves tomorrow, she is something of a bad person (depending in your point of view). One possibility is that the Commitee appoints her with a starting date of July 1, 2010. Giving Vassar 4 years (and an entire year to find a next President) is reasonable. If we haven ‘t heard anything before the fall, then the Committee might appoint her for July 1, 2011.

2) A sometimes knowledgeable alum writes:

What about trolling for the new president? You heard it here. Pam Carlton or Clayton Spencer. At best these would be neutral, one decidedly negative.

Who is Pam Carlton? I doubt that Williams would choose someone like Spencer ’77 without a Ph.D., despite her extensive experience in higher education. Spencer is on the Search Committee. Political junkies will recall that Dick Cheney went from leading George W. Bush’s search for a running mate to being the running mate.

Not that I am comparing Spencer to Cheney, of course. ;-)

3) I assume that Nancy Roseman is one of the 8-10 finalists. She is clearly interested in more senior jobs and it would be a serious insult for the Committee not to take her application seriously. I could also imagine her as one of the 2-3 finalists. Not because I think that Williams would ever choose her (that seems highly unlikely) but because a smart search committee stacks the finalists so that the whole board picks the candidate the search committee wants. Roseman was clearly just a stalking horse for the insider candidate for the Exeter job.

4) What other candidates are plausible?

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