Appointment of an Interim President and Search for a New President

From: Rose M. Patten

Chair of the Governing Council 

Date: July 27, 2004

Re: Appointment of an Interim President and Search for a New President

You will have received the announcement that Professor Robert Birgeneau will be stepping down as President.  He and I will confirm the specific date within the next week.  I would like to begin by thanking President Birgeneau for his important contributions to and leadership of our University and on behalf of all of us, I wish him well in his new challenges.  In his time as President, we have accomplished much as an institution and I believe that all of you can be proud of the successes we have had in building on the University’s high standing and the role each of you has played in these successes.  I am confident that, with the strong, very capable, and committed leadership we have in place, we will effectively pursue our bold vision and our academic plan.  With this in mind, I will move quickly to have Governing Council appoint an Interim President and to establish a search for President Birgeneau’s successor.  In doing so, we will be well-served by our reputation, by the depth and breadth of talent in the University and by our ability to attract top academic talent.

Interim President

Process I will act immediately to obtain advice from within the University community and beyond, as appropriate, to bring a recommendation to the Executive Committee and Governing Council.  In particular, I will have ongoing advisory support from the Vice-Chair, Jack Petch, as well as the Chairs and Vice-Chairs of the Boards of Governing Council, and from among the University’s academic and administrative leadership.  It is my intent to recommend an appointment within a matter of weeks.

Broadly-based advice is important in this decision process and I would welcome your input in the next several days.  I would ask that you contact me by e-mail at by August 9, 2004 with your views.

Context To provide you with context for my approach, I would note that there is no process defined by policy for the appointment of an Interim President and only one precedent for such a process.  In that case, the Chair, acting on broadly-based advice, brought a recommendation to the Executive Committee which, in turn, recommended the appointment to the Governing Council for approval.  The advisory process followed at that time and the steps I will take reflect the intent underlying the Policy Respecting the Appointment of a President, that is, ensuring appropriate advice to the Chair and, ultimately, to the Governing Council.  (The Policy can be found on the Governing Council website at


Search Committee

Simultaneously, it is also my intention to establish a search committee for a new President by no later than mid-September.  The Policy Respecting the Appointment of a President specifies the process to be followed in the search, the representative composition of the committee to advise the Governing Council, and the manner in which recommendations are to be made to the Governing Council.  While, in practice, the  process outlined by the Policy has generally taken over a year to complete, I would like to plan for the Governing Council to consider a recommendation in a matter of months.  To that end, I propose to issue very shortly a call for nominations for individuals to serve on the search committee.  Other important elements of the process engaging in consultation, creating a position specification, and identifying candidates will require specific milestones and explicit target dates which will also be communicated to you in the next few weeks.

I am fully committed to thorough and appropriate communication, and respect your desire to be kept informed on these important matters.  Over the weeks and months ahead, as we move through the steps to appoint an Interim President and to undertake the search for a new President, I will continue to keep you apprised of our progress on a frequent basis.  Our intention is to establish a website so that information is easily accessible to you and to all members of our community.  I welcome your comments at any time.

Thank you very much.  I look forward to hearing from you.