WMU News

Board establishes presidential search committee

July 25, 1997

KALAMAZOO -- The Western Michigan University Board of Trustees July 25 approved a resolution establishing a Presidential Search Advisory Committee and named Richard G. Haworth of Holland, Mich., chairperson of the board, as the committee's chairperson.

It is the board's "primary concern . . . to select the best possible president" for WMU, the resolution stated. "The board recognizes the importance of the involvement and participation of the University community in this important undertaking."

"It is the board's responsibility, and the board's alone, to make the final selection of a successor to President Diether H. Haenicke," said Haworth, citing the resolution. "However, ours will be a highly inclusive, representative search process. It will be conducted in full and complete compliance with the state's open meetings law, and it will seek broad participation of the University and larger communities."

Haenicke, who has been president of WMU since 1985, announced June 27 that he would step down as president to return to the faculty, effective July 31, 1998. He is the University's fifth president since it was established in 1903.

Also named to the committee were trustees Richard F. Chormann of Kalamazoo, who will be vice chairperson of the committee, and Lori B. Waddles of Detroit, who is vice chairperson of the board. The open meetings law allows up to four members of an institution's governing board to be included. In addition to board members, others to be named to the committee will include representatives of these groups: faculty members, students, administrators, alumni and the general public.

"It is our hope that the remaining members of the committee can be appointed as soon as possible, and that the committee will meet soon thereafter to begin this important process," Haworth said. A search consultant will be identified to help the committee with the search. The search consultant and legal counsel will assist the committee and any staff members associated with the search.

"In addition, I'm happy to say that Charles H. Ludlow, trustee emeritus and chairperson of the last presidential search, has agreed to serve as executive director of this search," Haworth said. Ludlow, a 1950 WMU graduate, served as a member of the WMU Board of Trustees from 1967 to 1987 and was chairperson of the search that recommended Haenicke for the presidency in 1985.

The process will include a series of internal constituency sessions that will help the committee create an institutional profile, from which desired presidential characteristics will be developed. Public input will be solicited. A pre-search study by the consulting firm, the institutional profile and the desired presidential characteristics will be presented at a meeting of the Board of Trustees for review and approval.

This is expected to occur by late fall, after which the position will be advertised, and nominations and applications sought. The committee is to seek out candidates "observing the equal opportunity/affirmative action and other relevant personnel policies and applicable state and federal law and following proven procedures that will lead to the appointment of the best qualified person for the presidency," the resolution stated.

By spring 1998, the committee is expected to present the names of five unranked finalists to the full board, as is required by the open meetings law. The resolution stipulates that "there is to be no communication between the Board of Trustees members on the committee and other board members about the candidate list or other work of the committee." However, the committee is to make periodic public reports to the board and the public.

Once five candidates are identified by the committee, the board by law must wait at least 30 days before making an appointment. The finalists will be invited to the campus for public presentations. They also will be interviewed in a public session of the Board of Trustees.

"Our goal is to have the five finalists identified before the end of the 1998 winter semester so that as many members of the University community are available to participate as possible," Haworth said. "But, as with any dynamic process, it is impossible to predict exactly when any part of the search will be completed."

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