University Concerned About Release of Names of Candidates

By David J. Wong Hoya Staff Writer

With the announcement of the vice president of student affairs expected soon, university officials are upset at a report published Thursday in The Georgetown Voice naming the search committee’s three finalists.

The 12-member search committee has submitted to University President Leo J. O’Donovan, S.J., its recommendation of three finalists to replace departing Dean of Students James A. Donahue. While there is no deadline for naming Donahue’s successor, O’Donovan is expected to announce his decision before the end of the school year, according to University Spokesperson Daniel Wackerman.

Donahue announced last November that he will be leaving Georgetown effective July 1 to become the new president of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, Calif.

Wackerman said yesterday that The Voice “made a very bad error of judgment” by publishing the names of the three finalists yesterday.

“We were disappointed to see the story,” Wackerman said. “They were aware that the search was confidential but went ahead with the story anyway. It is totally inappropriate to share information about a confidential search.”

According to Ben Martin (COL ’01), a member of the search committee, committee members were told explicitly that the information about the candidates was confidential.

“It’s in the best interests of the school and the candidates,” said Martin, who added that the committee members were not asked to sign any formal confidentiality agreements. “There are reasons for confidentiality and it was broken. It was irresponsible journalism.”

Citing “internal documents obtained . from a source familiar with the search process,” the article, written by Voice Contributing Editor Ryan Michaels (SFS ’02), was based on the candidates’ applications, including a letter and resume from each of the applicants. Michaels said that after discussing the issue with his editors, they decided that the students should have the information.

“We believed that the students have a right to know who their next dean of students was going to be,” Michaels said. “We understood that the university wanted to keep it confidential. They were concerned whether or not the candidates would stay in the race. I question whether we should have candidates for the position who are not willing to face public scrutiny.”

Then-editor in chief Jeff Jarosch (COL ’01) said that running the story was consistent with the Voice’s editorial philosophy.

“We, as a newspaper, could not in good faith keep this information that is incredibly pertinent from the student body and smother it,” said Jarosch, who said that he had spoken with Journalism Advisor Rose Ann Robertson before making the decision to run the story. “If the people that are coming here can’t be honest and open, then we’d like to know about that. Our editorial page has consistently expressed a desire for everything on campus to be open to the press.”

Jarosch, who finished his term as editor in chief with Thursday’s issue, said that he had received a call Thursday from University Provost Dorothy Brown saying that by running the story, the newsmagazine had jeopardized having students on committees such as the one that’s choosing Donahue’s replacement.

“It interesting because she assumes that it was a student,” Jarosch said.

Wackerman, who said he did not know how the Voice obtained the names of the finalists, said that a confidentiality agreement is necessary to protect the people involved. Applicants often do not inform their current employers of their candidacies until they are hired.

Breaching that confidentiality also could make potential candidates for other positions think twice before applying, Martin said.

The search committee, comprised of five professors, three administrators, three undergraduate students and a graduate student, narrowed the pool of applicants to five semifinalists. Those five were then interviewed by the committee and a 10-member student panel earlier this month with the committee submitting three finalists to O’Donovan two weeks ago after its final meeting on April 14.

Staff Writer Tim Sullivan contributed to this report.

Related Links

Committee Prepares Final Candidate List (4/14)

 Dean Search Presses On (1/28)

 Donahue Announces Departure (11/12)

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