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SMC hosts presidential candidate

Megan O'Neil | Friday, November 7, 2003

Saint Mary’s took a step forward in its presidential search as the College welcomed the first of four presidential candidates to campus Thursday. In the culmination of the lengthy and meticulous search process, the candidate met with administrators and answered questions posed by faculty members on the first day of the two-day visit.

Today, the candidate is scheduled to meet with any students who are interested at noon.

In order to maintain a fair interviewing atmosphere for each of the candidates the presidential search committee asked that The Observer not publish the candidate’s name or personal information. However, each candidate’s name and biographical information was made available online for College students 24 hours prior to his or her visit.

“If you keep the candidates confidential you will draw a much stronger pool of candidates,” said search committee consultant Nancy Cook. “That’s why we hold many of our meetings off-campus.”

The candidates, when they arrive at the College, start at the Welcome Center. In an hour-long PowerPoint presentation, candidates will be provided with a brief look at the heritage of Saint Mary’s, including some of the notable accomplishments of past College presidents.

The candidates will then met with the Administrative Council and current faculty members in two separate 90-minute question and answer sessions. Administrators and professors will ask candidates about everything from her past leadership experience to her visions for the future.

Despite the restrictions, however, the search for a new president has been defined by the open and inclusive attitude of the search committee. Assembled shortly after current President Marilou Eldred announced her retirement last March, the committee has welcomed input from all the constituencies of Saint Mary’s.

“I anticipate that the campus will ask a lot of good questions to evaluate the candidate,” said Trustee and search committee member Debbi Schwiebert. “I am hoping it will be a wonderful exchange.”

A particularly warm hand has been extended to the student body. Board of Governance President Elizabeth Jablonski-Diehl sits on the committee as the student representative. Moreover, the committee is hosting student-candidate discussion sessions in order to introduce the candidates and students to one another.

The opportunity has created quite a buzz on campus.

Freshman Jill Blanchard said that the visits have been well publicized and she looks forward to participating.

“I’d like to see a president, who is outgoing enough to go out and meet the students on a personal level,” said Blanchard, “and also someone who has a real desire to make the school a better place.”

The selection process has even generated excitement among seniors, although they may never attend school under the new president.

“I realize that the new President won’t affect much in just one year,” said senior Molly Halm. “But you need to think about the women in the future.”

The College will also sponsor a student discussion with the presidential candidate today at noon in the Noble Family Dining Hall’s west wing.