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The Transitions

The Transitions

Every time I talk to a faculty group — and this is true for some student discussions as well, though they’re less concerned — the subject of leadership changes understandably comes up. I’m neither part of nor particularly close to the presidential search process, so I have nothing startling to disclose nor knowledge that I must keep secret. I do believe that the state of the university is such that we can expect a number of really strong candidacies, so while certainly sharing everyone’s curiosity about what happens next, I’m not especially apprehensive.

And I also doubt, though of course I could be proved wrong, that any new president will likely change many of the university’s current directions or structures, which are, in my self-serving opinion, quite solid in the main. Of course the newbie should bring some special insights and new emphases, but I don’t anticipate sea changes. We’ll see.

We also have other transitions in the works. Two major deanships are open, and candidates begin to arrive this week. We have encouragingly strong responses to both of the searches involved. And I think we can provide the kinds of assurances that will attract selected candidates to accept offers once our own decisions are made. The same applies to other open slots in the academic area, where searches have moved or are moving along well.

Further, we’ve been quite careful to provide contract overlaps in most of the existing academic leadership positions, beginning with the majority of deanships — sufficient to prevent a new president from facing too many search demands at once, sufficient to maintain desirable continuities, but not so extensive as to prevent other new or renewed leadership choices within a reasonable time period.

We’re also not standing still even as we await the Big Decision. It would be a real mistake not to maintain momentum, even while recognizing that a few potential new directions really must await the arrival of the new president. We’re moving out, for example, in establishing space for more educational programs in the expanding Tysons Corner; we’re busy implementing the major Students as Scholars initiative, and there are a variety of developments on the global front. Innovation, after all, is our watchword, and it would really change the place to try to sit around for a year.

So I think we’re positioned fairly well in preparing for the next set of changes. It will certainly be interesting to see what happens next.