By Ian A. Palko Hoya Staff Writer

Georgetown’s board of directors Chairman John R. Kennedy (CAS ’52) announced on Monday the formation of a presidential search committee to replace University President Leo J. O’Donovan, S.J., who recently publicized his retirement effective June 30, 2001. embers of the committee met Wednesday and then held town hall meetings for staff, faculty and students Wednesday evening.

Hans P. Ziegler (FLL ’63), chairman of the presidential search committee said the purpose of the search committee would be to interview candidates and organize the search for a new university president, but said the committee would not choose the new president, only recommend candidates to the board of directors. The search committee will meet during the summer break and into next semester with the hope of recommending one or more candidates to the board of directors for their December 2000 meeting, “but this is a fairly lengthy process,” he said.

At the town hall meeting for students on Wednesday, Zeigler said, “Our mission is to do three things: search for candidates, screen the candidates and then recommend one, or a number of candidates, to the board of directors.” He also characterized his position as “one of the most important I’ve ever undertaken for the university.”

The 13 students who attended the meeting in the Leavey Center posed questions to the seven committee members and expressed opinions about the processes and make-up of the committee throughout the entirety of the meeting.

At the beginning to the town hall, Ziegler made clear the preference of the committee in regard to a candidate. “All things being equal,” he said, “our preference is that we have another Jesuit as president of the university.” He added, “We would not limit the search to a Jesuit priest.”

One student, Veronica T. Lerma (COL ’01) was named to the committee, and much of the dialogue encompassed whether appointing more students would be possible. GUSA President Tawan Davis (COL ’01) was concerned “with the largeness of the committee, considering there is only one student on it,” and asked at the meeting “if there could be an enlargement [of student representation].”

“I don’t think any of the students feel there was ill will created or [appointing only one student] was done to isolate us, I think it’s just that we’re concerned,” said Wendy Wright (COL ’01), Chief External Advisor for GUSA and co-chair of Campaign Georgetown.

“The greatest concern that I’ve heard wasn’t whether it was a Jesuit or the qualifications, it was ‘Why is there only one student on the board? How is our voice going to be heard,'” Wright said.

Zeigler asked Davis what kind of involvement he thought graduate students wanted with the search committee, responding to a request for more undergraduate representation. “We spoke with some of the graduate students and at the law school,” Davis said, “They’re just not interested. When it boils down to it, their connection to the Alma Mater is a different one.”

“I’ll give [more student representation thought] some thought,” Zeigler said.

The committee has already scheduled full-day meetings throughout the summer and into next semester, and Zeigler said he would be interested in scheduling more town hall meetings. Davis pledged GUSA’s help in disseminating information about those meetings.

The Committee is 23 people strong and includes 11 board of directors representatives, nine faculty representatives, one staff representative, one alumni representative, and one student representative, as it currently exists.

“The university is in a cycle that I would characterize as ‘challenge and opportunity,'” Zeigler said. “This is a fairly unprecedented situation at Georgetown.”

Related Links

 O’Donovan to Step Down In June 2001 (3/21)

 47th President: A Scholar and Administrator (3/21)

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