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Using the Collection
Note: some material may be restricted or offsite
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Series IV. 1992 Presidential Search, 1992-1993
At a Glance
This collection is arranged into five series.
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.
Using the Collection
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Restrictions on Access
Due to the nature of these records, Presidential Search records are closed for 50 years from their date of creation.
This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.
Terms Governing Use and Reproduction
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.
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
Additions are expected
Ownership and Custodial History
The 1945 Presidential Search records were officially transferred to the Columbiana Collection in 1967 by the Office of the President. The 1979 Presidential records were transferred to the Rare Book and Manuscript Library in 1993 by the Secretary of the University. The 1992 and 2001 Presidential search records were transferred to the University Archives in 2002 by the Presidential Search Committee of the Board of Trustees.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
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.
2018-01-23 File created.
2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.
2020-01-06 Removed expired restrictions.
History / Biographical Note
Biographical / Historical
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.