After UR’s ninth president, Thomas Jackson, announced his resignation on March 5, 2004, UR formed presidential search committees with assistance from private firm A.T. Kearney. So far, the committees have made successful progress toward narrowing down the candidates for UR’s 10th president.
The search committees consist of Trustees’ Presidential Search Committee and University Advisory Committee. The former is chaired by President of Board of Trustees G. Robert Witmer Jr. and the latter is chaired by professor of physics Nicholas Bigelow.
“The Trustee Search Committee and the University Advisory Committee are making steady, planned progress in identifying our next president,” Secretary of the Trustees Presidential Search Committee Paul Burgett said.
To recruit the best candidate, the search committees and A.T. Kearney created a university “white paper” to stress what kind of qualities UR is looking for the next president.
According to the “white paper,” the successful presidential candidate must possess great sociability with the UR community as well as with local leaders, excellent fund-raising skills, “compelling personal presence” and diverse ways of thinking.
“President Jackson has assembled an extremely strong team of leaders at the University of Rochester,” Provost Charles Phelps, who was the chair of the Faculty Advisory Committee that brought President Jackson 10 years ago, said. “And that leadership team will provide the basis for the new president’s ability to move the UR forward.”
While Jackson was in the office, the UR took strategic planning to make this research institution a better place to study, work, and teach. One of his major accomplishments is the Renaissance Plan.
This plan was introduced in 1995 by Jackson.
It emphasizes the quality of enrolling students by decreasing the size of undergraduate student body and providing those students with a more personal academic environment and first-class research facilities.
Furthermore, Jackson also made significant changes to the UR Medical Schools and the Eastman School of Music in an attempt to improve their overall quality.
Partly due to his efforts, those two institutions are currently nationally ranked and engage in the most advanced studies and researches in the country.
According to the administration, the new president, whoever he or she may be, must continue the trends of successes that Jackson had laid out, but it is also vital for him or her to introduce new plans that make UR an even better institution.
“I think the new president will find the challenges and opportunities of his or her presidency to be wonderfully exciting,” Burgett said. “Just imagine the energy and promise of bringing a talented and enthusiastic leader to an already great university.”
Jackson’s decision to step down as the president on June 30, 2005, after a decade of accomplishments, was unexpected news last spring, but the community responded well and now the UR faculties, staff and students are eager to welcome the new successor to Jackson.
“Change at universities doesn’t come about abruptly, and one measures the success of university presidents in terms of many years, not months or few years,” Phelps said. “Think ‘decade,’ not ‘month.'”
According to Phelps, the next president, more than anything, must understand and value the motto of the UR, “Meliora.”
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