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Wide net cast in search for next chancellor

| 03 December 2003

The search for Berkeley’s ninth chancellor is gearing up, following Robert Berdahl’s announcement of his intention to step down in June 2004. UC Office of the President (UCOP) has begun a far-reaching search for qualified individuals and is set to announce on Dec. 9 the members of the advisory committee that will evaluate the most promising candidates. Plans are also in the works for a daylong meeting Jan. 28, at which campus stakeholders will provide input on the type of leader needed to meet the challenges that will face the campus in the coming years.

Leading research universities and major higher-education associations and foundations will be tapped in the search for a new leader. UC has hired a search firm, A.T. Kearney, Inc., to assist in identifying and screening candidates. Alberto Pimentel, the firm’s vice president in charge of executive searches for nonprofit and educational institutions, says the call will be extended to “universities of equivalent stature” abroad, and that an ad will run in the Chronicle of Higher Education in early January.

Consistent with regental policy reiterating UC’s “firm commitment to affirmative action in the employment of women and minorities in seeking out the most qualified candidates” for chancellor, job announcements will also be placed in more specialized publications such as Black Issues in Higher Education and Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education.

Much background work — leading up to an April announcement
Additionally, a number of individuals are considered “candidates by position,” according to Susan Mathews, UC’s director of senior management compensation and benefits. These include provosts and vice chancellors for research at all UC campuses, and senior vice chancellors at UCOP, who are contacted to see if they are interested in applying. Mathews notes that faculty, especially, do “a lot of background work” on each candidate, prior to the extension of an interview invitation to any of them. The search will stretch into the spring, she says, with a final announcement expected in April.

UC policy on the appointment of chancellors calls for a nationwide search for promising candidates and the formation of a regental-faculty Committee to Advise the President on Selection of a Chancellor. President Dynes submits the names of 5 to 15 promising candidates identified through the search process. The committee evaluates these candidates and may consider or suggest other names, conduct interviews, and solicit opinions of interested groups. Based on its recommendations, the president determines his top choice for chancellor, subject to approval by the UC Board of Regents.

Included on the advisory committee are five regents appointed by their chair (who will also serve); five faculty members appointed by President Dynes, from nominations submitted by the campus Academic Senate Committee on Committees; and Dynes himself (ex officio). Also participating in all committee meetings, discussions, and debate are a graduate student, an undergraduate, an alumni representative, and a staff employee, nominated by student, alumni, and staff organizations respectively.

A ‘thrilling’ experience
Campus Director of Transportation Nad Permaul — who served as the staff representative to the committee during the last search for a Berkeley chancellor, which led to Berdahl’s selection — recalls the experience as a “thrilling” one. The committee conducted long interviews with top candidates, he says, with “questions [coming] from all corners of the room.” He will serve again on the advisory committee, this time in his role as president of the California Alumni Association.

At the group’s first meeting, to be held Friday, Jan. 28, at the Clark Kerr Campus, representatives from various campus constituencies will discuss what they see as the key challenges facing the Berkeley campus and the type of leader needed to meet those challenges. Given time restraints, participation is by invitation, Mathews says, but others are encouraged to submit written testimony “on what the committee should consider when looking at candidates.”