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01/27/92

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Interim provost to be named in mid-February

STANFORD -- President Donald Kennedy in mid-February will name an interim provost to replace James N. Rosse, who recently announced that he will become president and chief executive officer of Freedom Newspapers Inc., effective April 16.

Kennedy told the Faculty Senate on Thursday, Jan. 23, that he already had begun consulting with the deans and the Advisory Board on a replacement, and will discuss the appointment with trustees at their Feb. 10-11 meeting. He would like to fill the position quickly, he said, so the interim provost and Rosse could overlap for a time. He urged senators to contribute ideas on candidates.

Kennedy said he would not saddle Rosse's replacement with the title "acting provost" because it is "unnecessarily inhibiting" and implies the person is in a probationary situation.

The interim provost will have to agree to serve in a transitional position, he said. Stanford's ninth president "must be free to name her or his provost," said Kennedy, who announced last July that he would step down in August 1992.

Appointment of the interim provost is extremely important, Kennedy said, because the person will "bridge the presidential transition" while overseeing implementation of large budget cuts. The provost is the university's chief academic officer and chief budget officer. Rosse will depart shortly after presenting to university trustees a plan to close a $43-million budget gap in the non-medical portion of Stanford's operating budget.

The person filling the position will "in a sense, transport the culture and values of this faculty" to the next president, Kennedy told the senate. How long the interim provost will serve is an open question, but Kennedy speculated the term would end when the holder of the position and the new president agree the transition is complete.

Kennedy paid public tribute to Rosse for his "extraordinary achievements," including adroit management of challenging processes, leadership in restructuring administrative organization and governance and, "most important, his dedication to the welfare and quality of this faculty."

He said that Rosse had told him in late December of his desire to resign, effective mid-April, regardless of the outcome of Rosse's talks with Freedom Newspapers Inc.

Kennedy said he thought it unnecessary to appoint an interim provost deeply steeped in current budget matters because a strong process is in place to deal with the reductions. He will look for someone, he said, who understands academic objectives and has a deep knowledge of Stanford's ambitions.

Explaining why he considered "acting" an unfair and inappropriate title, Kennedy gave the senate a brief Stanford history lesson: From 1929 to 1933, chemistry Prof. Robert Eckles Swain waited patiently "for his liberation" from the post of acting president while Dr. Ray Lyman Wilbur, Stanford's third president, served as secretary of the interior in U.S. President Herbert Hoover's Cabinet.

Swain ran the university longer than presidents John Casper Branner (two years) and Kenneth Pitzer (18 months), and almost as long as Donald B. Tresidder (five years - he died in office). There is no oil painting of Swain "in the pantheon of Stanford presidents . . . and that strikes me as pretty unfair," Kennedy said.

At the end of the senate meeting, English Prof. Nancy Packer expressed appreciation to Rosse for his service as provost and the senate followed with sustained applause.

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