Open forums to gather input for new NU president

Nathalie Tadena

The search committee to find President Henry Bienen’s successor will hold four open forums May 8 on both the Chicago and Evanston campuses, officials announced Wednesday. The search committee will hold its first meeting the next day.

Search committee members, including chairman William Osborn, will host the forums, said Marilyn McCoy, vice president for administration and planning. It is uncertain which committee members will attend. Still, McCoy said she hopes for a large turnout of faculty, staff and student committee members.

Bienen announced in March he would step down as president effective August 2009. A 29-member search committee, composed of university trustees, alumni, faculty and staff members and two students, was announced in April to select Bienen’s successor. Groups on campus nominated student committee members.

“The open forums are a time for all parts of the university to express their views as we are beginning the search process,” Osborn said.

One forum for students as well as a separate discussion for faculty and staff members will be held on both NU campuses.

“Dr. Bienen has done a great job raising the prestige of NU,” Osborn said. “But we recognized that we need to move forward and continue to hear everyone’s opinion.”

The committee didn’t offer open forums before Bienen was selected president in 1994, McCoy said. But she said “students might have different issues and might feel more comfortable discussing them if they have their own forum.”

Weinberg sophomore Sharanya Jaidev, a member of the search committee, said she thought some students were unhappy that only one undergraduate and one graduate are involved in the search.

“Now more than ever, students’ input is really important in finding a new president,” she said. “Bienen was a great president who took into account students’ opinions, and because of this tradition students should stay involved in finding a new president.”

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