Governor's withdrawal expected to widen field

Deadline is extended in chancellor search

December 07, 2001|By Alec MacGillis and Mike Bowler | Alec MacGillis and Mike Bowler,SUN STAFF

With Gov. Parris N. Glendening out of the running for state universities chancellor, the chairman of the system's Board of Regents said yesterday that the board will extend its deadlines to attract more candidates for the job.

Nathan A. Chapman Jr., the regents' chairman, said the regents' search committee has received "tons" of nominations for the $345,000-a-year position, but would like to receive more. It therefore will extend its Dec. 1 deadline for receiving applications and its Jan. 1 deadline for forwarding finalists' names to the full board of regents.

"We expect more nominations to come," said Chapman, who said new dates have yet to be set. "We're extending the deadline for people to put in their information and submit their nominations."

Glendening dropped his bid for the chancellorship Wednesday night amid mounting criticism for seeking a job that would be filled by regents he had appointed. The decision left the regents without their highest-profile candidate for the position but hoping that more candidates would apply with Glendening out of the picture.

"People who would not have considered it before will now at least give it a good look," said Regent Joseph Tydings, a former U.S. senator. "We're clearly hoping more people will come forward now. The search will have a completely different complexion."

Tydings said Glendening's withdrawal had freed the board to consider candidates solely on their merits.

"Everyone on the regents, and everyone with an interest in higher education in this state, heaved a great sigh of relief when they read the governor's statement this morning," Tydings said. "We all believe the chancellor's search `cannot suffer the slightest hint of compromise.' We all feel he made the wise and appropriate decision."

Reached last night at the winter conference of the Maryland Association of Counties in Ellicott City, Glendening declined to comment further on his decision. In his statement withdrawing his candidacy, he said he did not want to cause the system any harm.

The regents have less than five months to name a replacement for Donald N. Langenberg, who is scheduled to retire April 30. The search committee was formed in May, but it has met only three times, is not scheduled to meet again until next month and has yet to examine applications, search committee members say.

"We're certainly going to have to work hard to meet our time constraints," said regent Hagner R. Mister, the state agriculture secretary.

Yesterday, executive search consultants around the country said the delays meant that the regents would face a daunting, but doable, task in the next few months. With many university administrators off on vacation for part of the next two months, the consultants said, it will be hard to assemble finalists before February.

"Maryland's timing is off. You want to hire at the beginning of the academic year," said James L. Fischer, a former Towson University president who has advised universities on executive searches. "Before Christmas, you get the pick of the good apples."

One regent said before Glendening's announcement that it might be too late for the governor to pull out without an impact. "If the governor was going to do that, he would have done it a long time ago, so we could have gotten the best candidates," said the regent, who asked not to be named.

Others predicted that strong candidates would now emerge from the shadows. "It will be clear to strong candidates they can come forward in confidence and confidentiality now that they're no longer running against a strong local figure," said Judith A. Auerbach, an executive search consultant in Boston.

C. Peter McGrath, president of the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges, agreed. He had been reluctant, he said, to suggest potential candidates to Korn/Ferry, the Dallas-based search firm hired by the regents, when Glendening was in the running.

"It's a very positive development," McGrath said. "The street talk since spring has been that people of the quality Maryland deserves were reluctant because of the belief it was a done deal."

Among those approached in recent weeks, according to someone close to the search, were Myles Brand, president of Indiana University; John Schumaker, president of the University of Louisville; and Mark G. Yudof, president of the University of Minnesota.

Schumaker said yesterday he expressed no interest. Brand and Yudof could not be reached, but a spokesman for Brand, known nationally as the man who fired basketball coach Bobby Knight, said he is approached by search firms at least once a month.

A Washington search consultant, Theodore J. Marchese, said it will be important for the regents to be candid about details of the aborted Glendening bid to assure that strong candidates don't stay away out of fear of lingering tensions on the board. "It's incumbent on all the people doing recruiting to offer full, credible explanations for what has happened up to now," he said.

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