The University’s presidential search committee did plenty of listening last week, holding four open forums in three days to seek suggestions and comments.
The first, which took place during a meeting of the Council of the Princeton University Community (CPUC), drew observations from students, faculty, and staff on a successor to President Tilghman, who is stepping down at the end of the academic year. The other forums targeted specific groups — members of the local community, staff, and graduate students.
The committee heard a wide range of views, with some common themes but sometime contradictory recommendations. At the CPUC meeting, one speaker urged the committee to consider endorsing a candidate from outside academia — a businessman or scientist “with a fresh perspective” — while another said experience with research and the faculty was most important.
Other advice: Select a candidate who values “interaction among different departments,” who embraces diversity, who is concerned about mental-health issues, who will ensure that Princeton continues to play a leading role in higher education, who will pay more attention to the humanities and social sciences, who has a vision of “where Princeton fits in the technological society of the 21st century,” who is more than just a competent leader but is willing to take some risks and “can inspire us to excellence,” and who has a “strong tie to the traditions of Princeton.”
And then there was what might be called the X factor — that the search committee should pick a candidate who “will excite you … You are our great hope.”