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Candidates vie for presidency

Anneliese Woolford | Monday, November 17, 2003

One of the four candidates to become the next Saint Mary’s president is one of the highest-ranking woman administrators at Notre Dame.

Carol Mooney, vice president and associate provost at Notre Dame, Gail Baker, Josefina Baltodano and Susan Keys each visited campus separately and met with faculty, administrators and students between Nov. 6 and Friday.

Baltodano, an executive vice president at Alliant International University, and Keys, an administrator at Johns Hopkins University, declined to comment on their candidacy, citing outside advice and respect for the process implemented by the College’s search committee. Baker, vice president of public relations at the University of Florida, was unavailable for comment. Though Mooney did not return messages seeking comment, Notre Dame spokesman Matt Storin confirmed Sunday she is a candidate for the position.

The four candidates currently hold administrative positions at their respective universities and two, Keys and Mooney, are Saint Mary’s graduates.

Elizabeth Jablonski-Diehl, the student representative on the presidential search committee and student body president, said that although two of the four candidates are alumnae and two are minorities, the categories were not a focus of the search committee.

“It all just worked out that way. It was definitely not a focus,” she said. “That’s just another element of diversity and I think the college campus is happy it worked out that way, but all of the candidates embody qualities aside from that.”

According to Jablonski-Diehl, the fact that all four candidates are women is also not something the committee specifically intended.

“We definitely weren’t looking for [all women], but it’s almost self-selective,” she said. “The one thing I noticed talking to students was that they’d like to have someone who could be a role model to them.”

Jablonski-Diehl said the search committee met several times before narrowing down a larger pool of applicants to the current candidates.

“We had a wide range of candidates that were diverse in all aspects,” she said. “We were really happy and the campus seemed to be really happy with the group that came.”

The decision to bring candidates to campus provided them a chance to become acquainted with the College, however some had previously visited on their own, Jablonski-Diehl said.

Included in each presidential candidate’s visit was the Heritage Presentation, a campus tour, a tour of South Bend, a student-candidate luncheon, dinner, an open meeting with faculty and staff and meetings with the Congregation Leadership Team, Sister Joan Marie Steadman, chair of the Board of Trustees, administrators, hourly staff and the Administrative Council.

“I think the general feeling of it was that it went really well,” Jablonski-Diehl said. “[The candidates] were very impressed with student involvement and with student turnout.”

She estimated that over 75 students attended all but one of the student-candidate luncheons to meet with and question the prospects.

“They seemed very impressed with the campus as a whole.”

The next step in the presidential search process will be for the search committee to decide on and recommend candidates to the Board of Trustees. The meeting is slated to take place before the Thanksgiving holiday.

“We’re hoping to recommend three [candidates] is my understanding,” Jablonski-Diehl said.

The Board is anticipated to select and name one candidate for the president’s position in December.

“Assuming that one is picked, starting next semester they’d begin to be a presence on campus,” Jablonski-Diehl said.