Well, it is over. The Trinity Presidential Search -- that was effectively launched last January when President John Brazil announced his retirement -- has concluded, nearly nine months later. As a member of the search committee, these are some of my own observations, in no particular order:
1. The first thing that comes to mind is the dedication of the Trustees on the search committee. They made multiple trips at their own expense to San Antonio and other locations. The amount of time and money they put into the process was proof positive of their commitment to Trinity. I think any Trustee here would have done the same.
2. In addition, the Trustees were pretty cool. They made jokes, got jokes, knew a lot about a lot, were very professional, and were really open to learning more about the day-to-day operations of the University.
3. As candidates learned more about the University they expressed that they previously had no idea what we had to offer and that they thought we had something special going here. Maybe they were blowing smoke, but they really seemed to be excited about us.
4. We met with a lot of quality people. They were professional, candid, showed great class, and were exciting. There were some characters too.
5. At any level, there is never a perfect candidate. If we could have "cut and pasted" together the perfect one, as a Trustee noted to me last week, that would be ideal. But we can't. I went into the search thinking that we would see people that brought it all. It's not like that. Think about electing a President in the U.S. You can't please everyone. But if you could cut and paste: Maybe a little bit of McCain, with a tad bit of Romney, and a big dose of Obama, with a pinch of Palin... Okay, I took it too far, but you get it. No one person is perfect. We settled for a human being.
6. The job of University President is HUGE. So, we were looking for a person with great integrity and character; an exciting public persona; an understanding of the economy and balance sheets; a fund-raiser; someone who would spend more time off campus raising money; someone who would spend more time on campus meeting students; a scholar; an administrator; a leader; a manager; someone who would build our national reputation; someone who would build our local reputation; someone with an international background; someone who understands the importance of globalization and service; and someone who is fun at cocktail parties. Got it Dr. Ahlburg?
7. As with the search for the Academic VP several years ago, there is no way to learn more about the faculty than to serve on a committee like this. I have been fortunate to have that experience both times. It is easy to not fully appreciate what you don't know. Additionally, faculty members on the search committee felt a tremendous responsibility to produce a candidate with intellectual stature that could be respected by their peers. Irespect their pride.
8. I never want to be around when people search for my replacement. Ask John Brazil and Becky Spurlock. To see what people don't like about me I would simply see what they were looking for in the next Dean. Ouch.
9. People talk when they aren't supposed to. Keeping secrets is hard. I am glad this is over.
10. The staff just wants to be loved too. (After the students, and the faculty, and the Trustees, and the Alumni, of course.) The staff contributes a lot to the campus and I am proud of my colleagues.
In all, this was an incredible opportunity to serve the institution. I feel a little selfish to have had the chance that others haven't. I wish everyone could have the same chance, but we'd never get anything done. What we do have is a new President and that always brings exciting opportunities for change and progress.