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Presidential search begins private consideration of nominees

STANFORD -- The search for the next president of Stanford University has moved from its public to its private stage, as the search committee examines almost 600 candidates.

"As a member of the search staff said, it's not so much the quantity as the quality," said James J. Sheehan, search committee vice chair and chair of the Faculty Senate. "There are so many interesting candidates."

With a few envelopes left to open, the committee said it has a list of 590 people, most nominated by others, to be Stanford's ninth president. The Board of Trustees' eventual choice will succeed Donald Kennedy, who announced in July 1991 that he would step down this August.

The committee has begun to discuss and narrow the list, Sheehan said, in weekly meetings that frequently last all day. The 15-member committee, he said, is comparing the real people to the abstract ideal candidate that emerged from its widespread solicitation of advice, its consultation with the trustees and its own deliberations.

"I personally think the committee is working very well together," said Sheehan, a professor of history. "It is a large committee but one in which there is a good consensus about our values and goals. I think we've taken those discussions as far as we can and now will begin to test them with discussions about individuals."

Sheehan said that, in keeping with its commitment not to discuss names, the committee would have very little to say publicly between now and when the trustees receive its recommendations and select the new president. The search committee is charged with reporting to the board by June, and has said it hopes to better that schedule.

The search committee, chaired by trustee John M. Lillie, comprises six faculty members; six trustees, all of whom are Stanford alumni; one non-trustee alumna; one student; and one staff member.

In gathering advice and nominations, it contacted Stanford faculty, alumni, staff and students through a combination of direct mail, open letters in university publications, interviews with groups and town meetings; ads in national newspapers and minority publications; and letters and telephone calls to national leaders well informed on higher education.



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