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October 8, 2012   Columns Articles | Inside UGA | Presidential search committee members get input at…

Presidential search committee members get input at meetings

Aaron Hale

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By Aaron Hale | October 8, 2012
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Although the search for UGA’s 22nd president is still in its early stages, it’s clear that the campus community has high expectations for the next individual who will lead the university.

On Sept. 26, a series of on-campus meetings was held between key university groups and members of the search committee established to find a successor for current President Michael F. Adams, who steps down June 30. 

The meetings, including those with faculty, staff and student leaders, as well as an open forum with about 150 members of the university community at large, offered various stakeholders an opportunity to ask questions and to suggest qualities to seek in the next UGA president. 

The search committee is still in the process of gathering a list of potential candidates and determining the best traits for the next president.

“We’re here for one purpose and one purpose only. We’re here for you to help us get the best person possible for the next president of the University of Georgia. We want your input,” said Larry Walker, a regent with the University System of Georgia and chair of the presidential search committee, at the open forum. 

In addition to Walker, Will Burgess, UGA Student Government Association president and search committee member, was part of the meetings with the university community, as was Steve Wrigley, USG’s vice chancellor for administration, and Bill Funk, from the consulting firm aiding in the search. 

Several people at the forum told the committee they wanted a president with strong academic credentials and with an ear toward listening to students.

One speaker called for diversity to be a strong consideration. 

“I think what this university needs is someone with a different perspective,” said Nathan Williams, a graduate student in the College of Education. “Obviously that’s not just about race and it’s not just about gender, but about the diversity of experience that they have.”

Walker told the audience that diversity indeed was an important part of the search process. He noted that there was at least one female candidate who already had been discussed extensively within the search committee.

“I think there will be a diverse group of candidates,” he said.

Some leaders from student organizations asked for the next president to be committed to health and environmental priorities. Another said she wanted a leader who valued campus historic preservation. A commitment to improving transportation also was discussed.

Gary Bertsch, a recently retired UGA professor, said that the quality of students at UGA has risen over the years, and UGA’s next leader should match that standard. 

“I hope you will look for a candidate who is as good as our students,” he said.

And yet even with all of those qualities sought in the community, Walker acknowledged the best candidate would have to embrace UGA’s unique qualities.

“We want someone who will make us better, but will also appreciate our culture,” he said.

In the coming weeks, the list will be narrowed to 50 to 60 candidates. 

Over the next six months, the search committee will continue to narrow the pool of candidates to a short list before choosing semifinalists. 

Leading candidates will then be thoroughly vetted.

The board of regents and USG chancellor will make the final decision.

For news about the search and to submit a nomination, visit the website http://presidentialsearch.uga.edu.

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