Search starts for Kirwan successor UM chancellor seeks 'best of the very best' to guide College Park

January 08, 1998|By Mike Bowler | Mike Bowler,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- The search for a new president of the

University of Maryland, College Park began in earnest yesterday, with the university system chancellor saying that a pool of "several hundred potential candidates" would be narrowed to a single "best of the very best" within six months.

Chancellor Donald N. Langenberg appeared at a joint news conference on the campus with William E. "Brit" Kirwan, who accepted the presidency of Ohio State University on Monday.

Langenberg said he would appoint a search committee of 12 to '' 15 members within three weeks, after he meets with "focus groups" of students, faculty, staff and alumni.

The committee will include representatives of all those groups, with one regent from the university's governing board as a "liaison," the chancellor said.

The Board of Regents will make the final choice.

Langenberg refused to rule out candidates from outside

academia, saying he wanted to "create the deepest, richest, largest pool possible" without any consideration of where candidates "got their life experiences."

The chancellor said the search committee's deliberations would be closed to the public.

Deliberations in the glare of publicity, he said, would discourage candidates in top jobs from applying. "The next president," he said, "might well be in the position Brit Kirwan was a year ago, absolutely happy with his or her job, never having considered taking the presidency here."

Yesterday, Kirwan, 59, spent another day of emotional farewells on the campus where he has worked his entire professional life, more than 30 years.

"It's the only job I ever had," he said while fighting back tears.

Kirwan noted that when he moves to Columbus, Ohio, next summer, he will have been president and chief academic officer at College Park for 17 years, the last 10 as chief of the 33,000-student campus.

"That's a long time. I feel that I have seven or eight more years of energy, enthusiasm and ideas to give to higher education," he said. "It would be inappropriate, if not unprecedented, for someone to be president of a university for 17 or 18 years in this day and age.

"So I have come to the conclusion that basically I face a paradox. I desperately want to stay here, but I know it's time for me to leave."

Kirwan said he recently had been "misrepresented by some of the media" as being frustrated by inadequate state funding of the university.

"I wouldn't be doing my job as a president if I said yes" when asked if the university had received all the revenue it deserves, Kirwan said.

"Somehow, my response that, yes, we need more resources, is translated into headlines and articles that I'm leaving the institution out of frustration," he said. "The answer is that I'm leaving the institution because I love it so much."

Pub Date: 1/08/98

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