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There are 400 names on the list of candidates to succeed President Neil L. Rudenstine, the chair of the search committee said at a Friday news conference.
In his only meeting with reporters since the search began, Robert G. Stone Jr. '45 said the search committee is three-fourths of the way through the first stage of the search process, which he said consists of gathering community opinion and obtaining the names of potential candidates.
Stone, who was joined at the news conference by search committee member Hanna H. Gray, said the committee has spoken with 200 people since mid-summer and hopes to visit 50 more in the coming weeks. Most of those interviewed so far are faculty members, Stone said, but the group has been meeting with students recently. (Please see related story.)
The committee members said they have received more than 1,000 letters from members of the Harvard community expressing opinions about the search.
Stone said the committee has not cut anyone from the long list of 400 names--other than two nominees who are more than 90 years old and two nominees who are dead.
Though he declined to name specific individuals, Stone said the pool of candidates who are not currently affiliated with Harvard is weaker than it was when he participated in the search that chose Rudenstine.
"I look back 10 years ago, and I don't see as many really top candidates outside Harvard as I did then," he said.
Stone said the current candidates include only a handful of people who were considered in the Rudenstine search.
This group includes one of the top contenders for Rudenstine's job: Provost Harvey V. Fineberg '67, who was named as a possible Harvard president a decade ago when he was dean of the School of Public Health.
Stone and Gray said there are women and minorities on the list of 400, but that women constitute less than half of the potential candidates. They said the candidates vary greatly in age and academic experience.
"The people on the list represent just about every occupation, background and state of activity within the academic world that you can imagine," Gray said.
Gray refused to say whether President Clinton or First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton are on the list, as has been widely speculated, but said the committee is looking for candidates with "academic background" and invited reporters to draw their own conclusions.
"He certainly has to have--he or she--a science background or, enough of a background in science, to know how important it is to really push forward in that area," Stone said.
Stone said that with Harvard's resolve to keep the size of its student body the same in the coming years, the greatest growth pressure on the University will be in expanding research space for the sciences.
But understanding the role of science is just a part of the long-term vision that Stone said the search committee is looking for in a candidate.
Stone said the committee has also realized that the new president will have to devote considerable energy to the College.
"Most of us have begun to realize that the College needs some attention in terms of student-faculty ratios, which we've been working on for some time," he said.
Stone said that while the search committee would like to find someone who would serve at least a decade, he or she must be able to see the University's big picture long past that.
Harvard needs "somebody who has a vision for the future," Stone said. "Not ... in 10 years but in 30 years ... to get Harvard started on the path that really will take it to the moon."
Though Stone and Gray emphasized that they are open to all candidates, they acknowledged the trend in American academia towards presidents with previous administrative experience.
"It has become increasingly rare for presidents to be chosen from among those who have never done any administrative work, because the complexity of institutions has grown so much," Gray said.
On the Defensive
"I would hope they would hold up on Brown if they were thinking about it, to see if Harvard didn't fit their future plans better," he said.
Stone said that one Brown administrator has even asked him to speed up the process because prospective presidents might not want to commit to Brown until they were sure they were not being considered for the Harvard post.
Stone and Gray also defended the Corporation's decision not to include students, faculty or staff on the search committee--as is the practice to varying degrees at Princeton and Brown.
"We have 18,000 degree-seeking students," Stone said. "It's very hard to select two or three or four to represent the 18,000, particularly with all the graduate schools."
Stone opened the conference with a defense of the secrecy that surrounds the search process, which he said is necessary to protect both the candidates and those who give their frank advice to the search committee.
"We really want to guard particularly the people we're looking at," he said. "And also, you know, when the people are interviewed we promise them that they won't be reading about themselves in the paper. If they see comments that one told me in a meeting, the others are not going to speak frankly to me."
Indeed, officials at the press conference emphasized that the goals of the search committee and the media are often in conflict.
"Our interests are opposed a little
bit here," said Vice President for Government, Community and Public Affairs Paul Grogan.
Stone and Gray refused to reveal even the most general information about the search committee's meeting schedule.
"We've met I don't know how many times--there've been quite a few--and we'll be meeting quite a few times in the future," Stone said. "We don't have any set schedule--we meet periodically in different places, and you can't track us down every place."
Even when she told reporters that the committee had removed two deceased nominees from the list, Gray would go no further.
"I can't talk about them," she joked.
--Staff writer Joshua E. Gewolb can be reached at email@example.com. Staff writer Vasugi V. Ganeshananthan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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