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Presidential search process moves forward

Binghamton University’s plans to find a replacement for President Lois B. DeFleur upon her retirement at the end of July are taking shape. The Presidential Search Committee is being chaired by Binghamton University Council Chair Kathryn Grant Madigan, a strong proponent of the University.

The upcoming search was a topic at the Jan. 19 University Forum. Following a standing ovation for DeFleur at the end of her remarks, and as the last vice president to present, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Mary Ann Swain told the audience, “The president has had an enormous impact on the campus. Her vision, leadership style and ability to garner resources have moved this institution forward. And she is the first to say that it could not have been done without all of us in the room and all of the others not here with us.”

Turning specifically to the search process, Swain said, “Those who will be in a more central advisory role have to be trusted to advance your hopes and aspirations and the hopes and aspirations of the University as a whole. And I know they will.”

Madigan said the Council has met informally to review the SUNY Presidential Search Guidelines and will meet again soon to begin the process of vetting and choosing a national search firm to work with the Search Committee. As the process moves forward, she expects it to be highly collaborative.

“My goal is to be as inclusive and transparent as possible,” Madigan said. “We will be reaching out to all constituencies — students, faculty, alumni, staff and the Southern Tier community — to ensure that we identify highly qualified candidates who can build on the work of President DeFleur and take Binghamton University to the next level.

“We will have a Search Committee website that will explain the process and invite feedback; I also plan to post regular updates that will be as substantive as possible, given the need for confidentiality at certain levels.”

The Search Committee, which Madigan indicated will be comprised of approximately 15 members, will include representatives of the BU Council, as well as faculty, students, alumni and administration, and a non-voting representative from the SUNY Chancellor’s office.

The committee is charged with conducting a national search and forwarding to the BU Council a list of at least five acceptable candidates. The Council will then seek to achieve consensus in recommending three candidates to SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher, together with its opinion on the relative strengths and weaknesses of each. Zimpher will then recommend a single candidate to the SUNY Board of Trustees for consideration and final appointment.

“A culture is an important component in the recruitment of a new president and a culture also shapes what a new president can do,” Swain said. “This is a plum of a job: the excellence of our faculty and staff; the quality of our students. We have a campus that is in good shape.

“Mostly what a president will have is a can-do attitude on the part of everyone at the institution. So where the (new) president may be coming to a state that has challenges, there is a solid foundation (at Binghamton University) with people who can help move things forward. The culture we have will help the next president with leadership.”


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Last Updated: 10/14/08