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Criteria for president announced

Want a job? You may be in luck.

The search committee for President Nan Keohane's successor released its list of "criteria and qualifications" for the position Tuesday.

At first glance, the lengthy list might indicate that any Jim Bob next door has a shot at taking the helm, provided that he or she possesses certain sought-after qualities ranging from moral leadership to intellectual vigor and fundraising ability.

But here is where the similarities between the University's presidential search and an ordinary help-wanted advertisement end.

First of all, they'll contact you. Secondly, you've got to be good. Real good.

Still, Robert Steel, chair of the presidential search committee and vice chair of the Board of Trustees, said the "criteria and qualifications" are by no means exclusive. Instead, he said, the committee made a conscious effort to compile positive characteristics, rather than an enumeration of "musts."

"We don't feel like we should have requirements that 'you have to be this or have to be that,'" Steel said. "This is meant to be guidelines and skills, as opposed to qualifications. We don't have on here that you have to be a certain age or you have to work at a certain university."

On the other hand, the list clearly shows that the prestige of the Duke presidency is not to be taken lightly. The committee will eventually pare down the field to one, based on interviews recommendations and these criteria - some of which seem to exclude all but a few individuals. Jim Bob next door, for example, is probably not a scholar at the top of his field, as the committee's list recommends.

Steel confirmed that the next president should be "an academic or someone who's quite comfortable with academia and would be able to have the confidence of the academic constituency of the University."

Steel said he is aware that, just as his committee's list of criteria is far from perfect, no candidate will have an ideal record on all of the requested attributes.

"When we get into interviewing people, the committee's going to have to make a judgment on a candidate's ability to grow with the job," he said. "Nobody's going to be fully developed when they arrive, but hopefully they'll grow too. If you looked at the case of President Keohane and her tenure, she's really grown in lots of ways along with Duke."

The committee gathered suggestions over the past several weeks from faculty, staff, students, alumni and leaders in academia about what qualities Duke's next president should possess. The release of this final list signals a new phase in the search process.

"Basically we're now in what I would call the candidate collection mode, and after we finish with that we'll start to move into the evaluation stage, and that will be later this summer," Steel said. "We haven't met with anybody and we haven't started the process of ranking per se, but that is something we'll move to afterward."

Steel said he hoped to narrow the field to one or just a few candidates in time for election by the Board of Trustees at its Feb. 2004 meeting.


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