President Bowen Announces Departure

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On October 19, the Goucher student body received an email from the chair of the Board of Trustees, Ruth Shapiro Lenrow, class of 1974. In the email, Lenrow informed the student body of President Bowen’s decision “that he will be leaving his post on June 30, 2019.” Lenrow also included a hyperlink to Bowen’s own announcement as part of her statement, which was posted to the Goucher website the same day. Bowen cites his main reason for leaving as an opportunity to “focus on [research, scholarship, and music] and particularly to spend more time finishing my next book, which is largely about the work we have done together at Goucher.” Also included in Lenrow’s message was the assurance that “[t]he Board of Trustees will be establishing a Presidential search committee in short order and we will share additional information about that process soon.”

In response to the news, Bryan Coker, Vice President and Dean of Students, held an open meeting in Pinkard to explain the general process for hiring a new president at a college or university. During the meeting, which The Quindecim livestreamed and shared to all the class Facebook pages, Dean Coker asserted that “[t]he responsibility, universally, about a Board of Trustees, is that they hire and fire presidents.”

Dean Coker also explained the process of forming a search committee and the role of the members of that committee during the meeting. He also made note that presidential search committees tend to hire a search firm, “which is essentially a recruiter,” according to Coker. The search firm would visit campus to conduct a listening campaign and most likely release a survey to the student body asking for feedback regarding what qualities students look for in the college’s next president. From there, the search committee would typically produce a position profile, shared with individuals potentially interested in filling the position, with all the data gathered from their conversations with faculty, staff, and students.

After that, candidates would submit cover letters, resumes, and a list of confidential references. The search committee, consisting of faculty, staff, and students, as appointed (usually) by the Board of Trustees, would have confidential access to the applications submitted, and would then conduct brief interviews with their top 8-10 candidates, often at or near an airport. At this point, the search firm would check in with references listed and not listed by the candidate  in order to gauge the candidate’s potential for working at Goucher. After another round of interviews, the search committee often brings their top one or two candidates to campus so that they get a feel for the college in-person. Coker emphasized repeatedly throughout the meeting that the hiring process for a president is almost universally not public.

Sam Anderson, acting President of Goucher Student Government, emphasized during the meeting with Coker that “if [the Board of Trustees] decide[s] to do the search now, in what would be a kind of rushed amount of time for a presidential search, they would put together a search committee which would hopefully feature more than one student, so that that one student doesn’t feel siloed within the bigger committee, and so that more students have the opportunity for input, and then it would also include members of the faculty, alumni, staff, and then trustees. It will be mostly trustees.”

The Baltimore Sun reported on January 19, 2017 that President Bowen had signed an extension to his contract through June 2022. In an article published online the same day, the Baltimore Business Journal also noted that representatives of the college “said Bowen has declined to accept any salary increases since he arrived at the Towson college and has continued that request in the new deal.” On March 22, 2017, a Goucher press release announced Bowen’s contract renewal.

Neve Levinson is a sophomore Spanish major hailing from Seattle, Washington. She enjoys playing frisbee, reading the news, and learning about cephalopods. She spent this past summer as a nature specialist at an overnight camp, and as a result thoroughly enjoys never being inside. As the News Editor of The Quindecim for the year, she intends to document and address the many changes taking place on campus. What other pieces of news need to be covered? Want to write about it? (Or just tell her about it?) Email Neve at nelev001@mail.goucher.edu.

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