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UD presidential search committee seeks comments

2:24 p.m., June 27, 2006--As part of the search for a new president of the University of Delaware, the UD Board of Trustees and the search committee recently convened focus groups to seek background information to assist in the process.

President David P. Roselle announced in May that he will be stepping down from the position that he has held since 1990. Roselle said he will remain in office through May 1, 2007, or until the Trustees have named a new president.

The trustees employed Talent Strategy Partners to lead the focus groups earlier this month, and about 90 faculty, administrators, alumni and students were invited to participate in the sessions. They discussed five questions:

  • In recommending the University of Delaware to a friend or family member, what would you tell them are the best aspects of the University?
  • What have you experienced at or heard about other universities or colleges that you think would make University of Delaware even better?
  • What challenges and opportunities do you think the University will be presented with in the next five years?
  • What leadership characteristics will the next president of the University have to demonstrate in order to meet the challenges and take advantage of the opportunities?
  • When you were invited to this focus group session, was there anything relevant you wanted to say that we haven't talked about today?

A summary of the findings of the focus groups is available online in PDF format at [www.udel.edu/presidentialsearch/focusreport.pdf], and individuals are invited to respond with additional comments and suggestions online at [www.udel.edu/presidentialsearch/sharethoughts.html], where comments can be made anonymously or with identification.

According to the summary report, the focus group members said that among the best aspects of UD are the beautiful campus, the fact that the University is a “great value,” large school benefits with a small school feel, financial stability, research, academic excellence, the undergraduate experience, high morale, a top-tier library and strong technology.

They said key challenges include gaining a national reputation and developing national recognition, improving UD's reputation among in-state students, creating a vision for the future, growing the graduate program, increasing diversity on campus, building strategic alliances and improving the University's relationship with Newark.

As to leadership characteristics in the new president, the focus group members cited several key qualities: accessibility, integrity, someone who puts the University agenda first, relationship builder, communicator, business savvy, commitment to UD, academic focus, achievement orientation, commitment to diversity, ability to delegate and ability to bring people together around a shared vision.

Chairing the search committee are trustees Robert A. Fischer Jr., vice chairman of the board and a 1970 UD alumnus, and A. Gilchrist Sparks III. Other trustees on the committee include R.R.M. Carpenter III; Patricia A. DeLeon, who is also a professor of biological sciences; Robert W. Gore, who is also vice chair of the board and a 1959 UD graduate; Chelina N. Tirrell, the recent (2005) graduate trustee; John E. Wallace Jr. a member of UD's Class of 1964; and Mary Jane Willis. Also serving on the committee are Julie Moyer-Knowles, a member of the Class of 1982 and president of the University of Delaware Alumni Association; Mary Dozier, Amy E. du Pont Chair in Child Development; Eric W. Kaler, Elizabeth Inez Kelley Professor of Chemical Engineering and dean of the College of Engineering; Kathleen G. Kerr, director of residence life who received her doctorate at UD in 1998; Kenneth A. Lewis, Chaplin Tyler Professor of Economics; Maura Ruffing, staff assistant in University Development for the College of Arts and Sciences; and Donald L. Sparks, S. Hallock du Pont Chair of Agriculture and Natural Resources and chairperson of the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences.

To assist the search, the Board of Trustees has retained the services of a leading higher education search consultant, R. William Funk of Korn/Ferry International.

To stay up to date on the UD presidential search process, turn to the web site at [www.udel.edu/presidentialsearch/].

Article by Neil Thomas
Photo by Kevin Quinlan

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