by Jane S. Shaw
Ray Gronberg of the Durham-Herald Sun has an insightful report on the May 20 meeting of the search committee for the next president of the University of North Carolina. The members heard from three consultants who want to be headhunters.
Jerry Baker of Baker and Associates was the most inadvertently amusing competitor. He said that the committee should be open to a variety of candidates, including Obama administration officials who are likely to leave the administration in 2016.
Whom did he think he was talking to? If there is anything that would not characterize this Board of Governors is eagerness to hire someone from the Obama administration.
Baker also said the university needs a “miracle-worker.” This is about the worst advice that can be given to a committee, at least according to a book on presidential searches by former George Washington University president Stephen Trachtenberg. Why? Because there have been few miracle-workers in the past 2000 years, and most of them are not in the higher education business. The committee needs to be realistic and look for someone who can handle the job, not a savior.
A board member, Raiford Trask, responded to Baker by suggesting that the committee might be “concerned that this is your search and not ours.”
To be fair, though, Baker did oversee the selection of past president Erskine Bowles.
The committee will hear from one more consultant next week.