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Speculation over Rodin's successor sparks interest

(09/19/03 9:00am)

The search for the next University president is young, even in dog years, but rumors that prominent political figures may be considering the job are already starting to fly. And getting shot down. In a section of his column titled "Bradley to Penn?" Philadelphia Daily News staff writer Gar Joseph wrote that "the early buzz on who might succeed Judith Rodin as president... mentions former U.S. Sen. Bill Bradley. "A Princeton guy? Say it ain't so!" Contacted yesterday, Joseph dismissed the "buzz" as "pure gossip" -- a "throw-away line" to end his piece. But the former professional basketball player and Democratic senator from New Jersey wouldn't be a bad choice, according to long-time supporter and Harvard Economics Professor David Cutler. "I think he's a wonderfully thoughtful person, a very, very bright person with a deep interest in policy issues, which I suspect carries over into interest in academics," Cutler said. "I think anything he gets involved in will benefit from him," he continued. "So if it were true [that Bradley were coming to Penn], I would smile and say, 'Gosh, that's pretty wonderful.'" Cutler also praised Bradley's commitment to the understanding of health care issues -- a potential plus in the man who would run the University's mammoth health system. Bradley even has a connection to Penn, as a member of the Penn National Commission on Society, Culture and Community. Bradley worked with the think tank of scholars, politicians and public figures whose work on civic discourse will be available later this month in a book -- Public Discourse in America -- edited by Rodin and the Commission's chairman, Stephen Steinberg. Steinberg would not comment, saying, "Sorry, it's not a topic that I comment on." Rodin also had nothing to say about the rumor, noting that she hadn't heard it and isn't on the search committee, anyway. Chairman of the University Board of Trustees James Riepe would not comment on the rumor, either. Bradley, contacted at his office at the New York-based investment banking firm Allen & Company, also would not comment. Some rumors aim even higher than the former senator, fingering ex-President Bill Clinton. Unfortunately, Clinton is too busy to consider the position, according to Tammy Sun, a spokeswoman in the Clinton Foundation's New York office. "In general, I can tell you it's not a position he's considering," she said. "He's very busy working on his foundation.... And there's his book." Joseph, of the Daily News, agreed that a Clinton presidency at Penn isn't likely. "I don't doubt he's been approached," Joseph said. "That would be a great coup for the school... but that's a long shot."

U. announces presidential search committee members

(09/05/03 9:00am)

The effort to find a replacement for outgoing Penn President Judith Rodin entered a new phase this morning, as the University released the roster of the Consultative Committee, which will initiate the search process. The committee, which has yet to meet, will convene "shortly," according to Jim Riepe, President of Penn's Board of Trustees. Riepe added that the times and locations of the committee's meetings would be kept confidential, to protect the integrity of the search process. The makeup of the committee is largely dictated by University statute, Riepe said, noting that the statute requires there to be an equal number of faculty and trustees, half as many students as faculty and as many graduate and professional students as there are undergraduates on the committee. There are also "specific selection provisions that involve the Faculty Senate" regarding the selection of the faculty members on the committee, according to Riepe. "Everybody's approved," Riepe said, adding that committee members will first receive "a letter today from the Secretary of the University that welcomes them to the committee." Though the search is only just beginning, Riepe said that he felt there was time enough for the committee to see the process through before appointing an interim president becomes necessary. "I think Dr. Rodin gave us adequate notice," Riepe said. "We hope to have somebody in place by next July - that's our goal." The Consultative Committee will select and present at least three candidates to the Executive Committee of the Trustees, which will in turn make a recommendation or recommendations to the full Board of Trustees. The board will then have the responsibility to select Penn's next president. The committee is aiming to submit its recommendations to the Executive Committee of the Trustees in early 2004, according to Riepe, who added that the full board will likely be supportive of the candidate that makes it through both the Consultative and Executive committees. Riepe declined to offer his views on the qualities the committee should look for in a potential president. "It's going to take a few meetings for the committee to get to know each other and to discuss the issues," Riepe said. Riepe said that the committee will look at "two primary issues" in their early meetings: "what does the committee view as the key challenges the University will face in the next ten years [and] in light of that, what are the characteristics that we would" want in a president? Riepe also noted that there are "viable internal candidates" to be considered as the search progresses. Including Riepe, who will serve as the committee's chairman, the committee includes nine trustees, seven of whom +have Wharton degrees. Eight faculty members and four students - two undergraduates and two graduate students - round out the committee roster.