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   Presidential Search Records, 1945-2002

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Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Presidential Search Records; Box and Folder; University Archives, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

COinS Metadata available (e.g., for Zotero).

Summary Information

Abstract

This collection contains the records of the Trustee and other committees in charge of finding a new University President. The records include the search for the replacements for Presidents Nicholas Murray Butler (1945), Grayson Kirk (1968), William J. McGill (1979), Michael I. Sovern (1992) and George Rupp (2001).

At a Glance

Call No.:UA#0174
Bib ID:6187809 View CLIO record
Creator(s):Columbia University.
Title:Presidential Search Records, 1945-2002
Physical description:16.84 linear feet (6 record cartons and 23 document boxes)
Language(s): Materials are in English.
Access: Due to the nature of these records, Presidential Search records are closed for 50 years after their creation. This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least two business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.  More information »

Arrangement

Arrangement

This collection is arranged into five series:

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Description

Scope and Content

The collection consists of the records and the correspondence of the search committees created to find a new university president in 1945, 1968, 1979, 1992 and 2001. There are candidate nominations submitted by members of the Columbia community; reports compiled about the different candidates with information about their qualifications and statements of support; and internal correspondence and administrative records of the committees in charge of the searches.

Series I. 1945 Presidential Search, 1945-1947

This series, for the most part, contains the records of the Special Faculty Committee on the Presidency. It includes the correspondence received by the committee from members both inside and outside of Columbia nominating candidates for the presidency. There are three versions of the reports collecting the names of the nominees, their qualifications and statements of support, including the final version presented to the Board of Trustees in September 1945. The rest of the series contains the Trustees correspondence in conducting the search over the next two years. There are also newspaper clippings and articles related to search and the appointment of President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1947.

Series II. 1968 Presidential Search, 1968-1974

This series contains the records of the Faculty Search Committee for a Permanent President of the University convened in 1968. There are meeting minutes, notes, candidate files and general subject files, including the records of the Student Search Committee. The records end in May 1969, as the committees considered candidates but the search remains unsolved. The records include correspondence about the search process in 1969 that was shared with President McGill in 1974.

Series III. 1979 Presidential Search, 1979-1980

This series is made up of the "chron" files and correspondence of the Presidential Search Committee in 1979. There are also articles, books, pamphlets and copies of the position advertisement.

Series IV. 1992 Presidential Search, 1992-1993

This series contains three subseries of records that were maintained in the Presidential Search Committee office. Most of the documents of the Presidential Search Committee records fall within the period June 6, 1992 through February 1, 1993, the dates of the announcement of President Sovern's resignation and the announcement of the selection of George Rupp as Columbia's next President, respectively.

Subseries IV.1: Nominee Files, 1992-1993

The nominee files contain nomination letters, curriculum vitae or resume, Who's Who entry and/or a biographical sketch created by the Committee, relevant press clippings and articles, and some evaluation of the candidate's qualifications. At the beginning of the search process, these nominee files were used extensively by Committee members for comparisons and to determine what other information was still needed. After the selection of the Faculty Consulting Committee, selected portions of the files deemed non-confidential for their purposes were made available to them. The files of those candidates being most seriously considered by the Committee were most heavily used and tended to contain the most information. To ensure confidentiality, materials provided at the Search Committee meetings were retrieved by the Secretary at the end of each meeting for return to the Committee office. As the search process narrowed and intensified, most Committee members relied on the information provided at meetings (abstracted for them from the nominee files) rather than on a review of the actual nominee files themselves.

Subseries IV.2: Administrative Files, 1992-1993

These files contain copies of the acknowledgment letters sent by Committee members to individuals who nominated candidates or provided advice concerning the qualities the President should have, usually in response to the community mailing. The chronological files contain all other outgoing and inter-office correspondence and related materials from the Search Committee. There are also materials related to the planning for the mailing of 180,000 letters announcing President Sovern's resignation and soliciting nominations for his successor. There is information about the formation of the Faculty Consulting Committee to assist the Search Committee and biographical information of its nine members. There are also notes, articles and memoranda concerning searches conducted by other universities, status reports, mailing lists, and materials related to other universities' presidential searches.

Subseries IV.3: Sample of Materials Sent To Interviewees, 1992

Materials sent to candidates who were to be interviewed by search committees. These were meant to provide the candidates with in-depth information about Columbia's history, facilities and programs, financial data and relevant current issues.

Series V. 2001 Presidential Search, 2001-2002

This series contains three subseries of records that were maintained in the Presidential Search Committee office.

Subseries V.1: Nominee Files, 2001-2002

427 nominees were suggested for consideration. The nominee file folders contain a nomination letter, a Who's Who entry and Press clippings, newspaper or magazine articles. These nominee files were used by Committee members for evaluation of a candidate’s qualifications, for comparison with other candidates, and to determine what other information was still needed. Files of nine nominees were made available to the Faculty Advisory Group.

Subseries V.2: Administrative Files, 2001-2002

These files contain the correspondence and related materials from the Search Committee. Among records included in these files are press releases, memoranda and enclosures, internal memoranda, press clippings, and items relating to the selection of the next president. There are also materials pertaining to the planning for the mailing of 200,000 letters announcing President Rupp’s resignation and soliciting nominations and advice for his successor. There are lists of candidates, handwritten notes, Search Committee member biographies and contact information, and excerpts of important University documents relevant to the presidential search process.

Subseries V.3: Sample of Materials Sent to Interviewees, 2001

These materials were sent to candidates who were to be interviewed by the Search Committee and other potential candidates determined by the Search Committee. The materials provided the candidates and nominees in-depth information about Columbia’s history, facilities and programs, financial data and relevant current issues.

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Using the Collection

Access Restrictions

Due to the nature of these records, Presidential Search records are closed for 50 years after their creation.

 This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least two business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

Restrictions on Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Accrual Information

Additions are expected.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Presidential Search Records; Box and Folder; University Archives, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

Selected Related Material at Columbia

Central Files (UA#0001)

Frederick Coykendall papers, 1923-1956

William J. McGill papers, 1929-1979

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About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Archives; machine readable finding aid created by Columbia University Libraries Digital Library Program Division

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Deborah D. Milite and Diana Rodriguez in 1993 and by Marylyn Pettit in 2001. Finding aid written by Joanna Rios in December 2017.

Machine readable finding aid generated from MARC-AMC source via XSLT conversion January 23, 2018 Finding aid written in English.
    2018-01-23 File created.

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Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.

Subjects

HeadingCUL Archives:
Portal
CUL Collections:
CLIO
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
ArchiveGRID
College administrators.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
College presidents--Recruiting.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
College presidents--Selection and appointment.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
College presidents.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Columbia University--Administration.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Columbia University--Officials and Employees.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Columbia University--Presidents.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Columbia University.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Columbia University.--Office of the President.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Columbia University.--Trustees.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Universities and colleges--Administration.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

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History / Biographical Note

History

In April 1945, Nicholas Murray Butler announced his intention to retire after a 43-year term as University President. The Trustees created a special committee to find a replacement. In addition to the Trustee committee, there was as a Special Faculty Committee on the Presidency, with an executive committee made up of representatives from each faculty along with the Dean of the Graduate Faculties (George B. Pegram) as Chair and the Provost of the University (Frank D. Fackenthal) as Secretary. The Faculty Committee collected names of possible candidates from faculty at all levels, from administrators, and from the Columbia community and beyond. To ensure that the list was as complete as possible, subcommittees were appointed to investigate and present names from specific categories (college presidents, business men, men in public life and government, etc.). In total, the executive committee collected 174 names, evaluated and ranked the candidates, both narrowing and expanding the list at times, defined the determining qualifications and created reports with biographical information and supporting statements. In September 1945, the executive committee presented to the Trustees their final 8 candidates. The Trustees' Special Committee on the Presidency continued to search for the next two years until the appointment of Dwight D. Eisenhower in December 1947.

On August 23, 1968, four months after Hamilton Hall was occupied by student protestors, President Grayson Kirk announced his retirement. Andrew W. Cordier, then the dean of the School of International Affairs, replaced Kirk as Acting President. Trustee, faculty and student search committees were created to find a permanent president. All three committees worked closely in identifying criteria and vetting candidates. By the end of the academic year 1968-1969, the committees were unable to find an agreed-upon candidate, so Cordier was appointed President and the search was continued during the following academic year. On February 4, 1970, William J. McGill was appointed the sixteenth president of Columbia University.

President McGill announced his retirement in June 1979 after 10 years as University President. Arthur Krim, then Chair of the Board of Trustees, formed a Presidential Search Committee. Letters soliciting nominations were sent to about 180,000 members of the Columbia community and an advertisement was published in the student newspaper, the Spectator, in September 1979. The Committee arranged consultation meetings with groups from the University Senate, the Student Caucus, tenured and non-tenured professors and considered more than 700 nominees both inside and outside of the University. After a six month search, Michael Sovern, then University Provost, was named the seventeenth president of the University in January 1980.

After the June 6, 1992 announcement of President Sovern's pending resignation, a Presidential Search Committee was again formed. Letters soliciting nominations and comments were again sent to approximately 180,000 people, including members of the Columbia community (students, faculty, alumni, major donors to the University, employees, administrators and trustees), college and university administrators throughout the country, and to city, state and national leaders. More than 1,000 letters nominating 560 candidates were received in response to the community mailing and acknowledged by the Committee. In September 1992 a Faculty Consulting Committee was formed at the request of several Columbia faculty members. The Faculty Consulting Committee was to assist the Search Committee with information on and analysis of candidates on the short list, to participate in interviews with short-list candidates, and to "avoid constituency politics." The Search Committee itself was to make the ultimate decision selecting the next President. In time, the two committees came to work very closely together, holding most meetings jointly, and found common ground in the selection George Rupp on February 1, 1993 as Columbia's eighteenth President.

President Rupp’s announced his intention to resign in March 2001 and soon thereafter another Presidential Search Committee was formed. Letters soliciting nominations and comments on the requisite qualities of a Columbian president were sent to approximately 200,000 people, including members of the Columbia community. More than 800 letters nominating 427 candidates and giving advice to the Committee were received in response to the community mailings and acknowledged by the Search Office. In September 2001 a Faculty Advisory Group was also formed to assist in the search and by October 2001, the Trustees announced that Lee Bollinger was to be the University's nineteenth president.

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