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Search committee for Trask's replacement features no students

On Thursday, the University announced the search committee tasked with finding a replacement for outgoing Executive Vice President Tallman Trask.

Duke announced Trask’s retirement in October, and he is set to retire in Fall 2020 after serving for nearly 25 years as EVP. President Vincent Price hopes for the administrative search to be complete and have someone named by the end of the academic year, according to Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for government affairs and public relations.

“As we do with other senior level searches, it will be a national—or international—search for the next executive vice president,” Schoenfeld told The Chronicle.

No students to be found

The committee is packed to the brim with professors, administrators and a trustee emeritus—but no students. 

Schoenfeld said that undergraduates, graduate students and members of the Durham community will have some form of say in the hiring process. 

“There will be solicitation of input from students and from the community, for sure,” he said. But he wasn’t sure what that process was going to look like.

Most recent search committees have featured at least one student, typically drawn from Duke Student Government or the Graduate and Professional Student Council. Both major searches carried out last academic year featured a student on the committee.

The search committee that selected Cynthia Hewitt, vice president for institutional equity, in June included then DSG President Kristina Smith, Trinity ‘19, and GPSC President Travis Dauwalter. The committee overseeing the vice president/vice provost for student affairs search included Smith, Young Trustee Trey Walk and former GPSC President Rashmi Joglekar.

Students also sat on the committees to find the next vice president for Durham and regional affairs in 2018 and to name Duke’s next president in 2016. 

Drawing from Duke's upper echelon

The 10-person committee charged with selecting Trask’s successor features prominent figures from sectors across the University, including multiple vice presidents, deans and endowed professors. 

As Duke’s “chief financial and administrative officer,” the executive vice president’s various responsibilities seem to be represented among those chosen for the committee.

It features many figures on the academic side of University life, including Bill Boulding, dean of the Fuqua School of Business, who is chairing the committee. Don Taylor, former Academic Council chair and current professor in the Sanford School of Public Policy, Mark Anthony Neal, James B. Duke professor of African and African American studies, and Adrienne Stiff-Roberts, Jeffrey N. Vinik professor of electrical and computer engineering, will also join the committee.

Pamela Bernard, vice president and general counsel, and Hewitt bring their viewpoints as Duke’s chief legal officer and chief diversity officer, respectively. Kathleen Cooney, the chair of the department of medicine, represents the medical school.

The University’s financial interests are represented by Neal Triplett, president and CEO of Duke Management Company, who oversees the investments of Duke’s endowment.

Isaacson, Miller is back 

The premier executive search firm Isaacson, Miller is overseeing the search for Duke’s next executive vice president. The firm specializes in conducting administrative searches and is familiar with the top candidates across the country.

“If you’re searching for a president or a provost or even a dean of a school, you’re always going to engage a search firm,” Steve Nowicki, former vice provost for undergraduate education, told The Chronicle in the spring. “They’re the people who are the professionals who are able to use their connections to get out nationally and put the word out, identify candidates that locally you may just not know about and help bring the whole thing together.”

Duke tapped Isaacson, Miller last year to conduct the search that brought Mary Pat McMahon, vice president/vice provost for student affairs, to the University. The firm was also involved with the selection of Price.


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