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The University will postpone efforts to find a permanent replacement for the former fundraising head until Penn's next president is chosen.

Former Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations Virginia Clark left the University in August 2002.

"There is not currently a search underway for that position. It'll wait until the new president's here," University spokeswoman Lori Doyle said.

Though there was a search that began a year ago and candidates for the position were identified, no one was hired.

University President Judith Rodin said that, at the time, she hadn't been "willing to lie and commit to another" term of office, putting the search on standby until her successor is named.

"No vice president for development worth his or her salt wants to accept a job without knowing who the president will be," Rodin said. "Because the president is fundraiser in chief... the candidate pool would want to know who the next president was."

Asked if she was considering the position herself, Rodin laughed and replied, "hardly."

John Sowers, president of national executive recruiting firm Marvel Consultants, Inc., said that putting the search on hold was standard procedure.

"In industry, [you] generally pick the number one person first, because he wants to pick his man, and the person going in there at the lower level wants to make sure the two of them are going to get along," Sowers said.

Otherwise, if a "person comes in above them, and they don't get along, they're out on the street," Sowers added.

Medha Narvekar, the former assistant vice president for principle gifts, has been serving as an interim replacement for Clark, who is now director of external affairs at the Smithsonian Institution.

A 17-year veteran of Penn development, Narvekar earned her MBA from Wharton in 1986 and has worked for the University ever since, first fundraising for Wharton, then transferring to central development in 1997.

Narvekar "moved up to the interim role very easily and with the enthusiasm of her colleagues, and she's done a wonderful job," Rodin said. "We had our best year ever last year, so I think the data speak for themselves -- we not only didn't miss a beat, we gained a beat."

During Fiscal Year 2002, Penn weathered what a survey released by the Council for Aid to Education -- a branch of the RAND research institute -- identified as the first-time gifts to institutes of higher education had dropped in 15 years.

The Voluntary Support for Education survey that year in private gifts to colleges and universities recorded a 1.2 percent drop, including a 14 percent decline in alumni giving.

Penn ranked fifth among the nation's top fundraising institutions for 2002, racking up a total of $320 million in voluntary donations, up from $286 million in FY 2001.

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