Rare Book & Manuscript Library
 

Presidential Search Records, 1945-2002

Summary Information

Abstract

This collection contains the records of the Trustee and other committees in charge of finding a new University President. The records include the search for the replacements for Presidents Nicholas Murray Butler (1945), Grayson Kirk (1968), William J. McGill (1979), Michael I. Sovern (1992) and George Rupp (2001).

At a Glance

Call No.: UA#0174
Bib ID 6187809 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Columbia University
Title Presidential Search Records, 1945-2002
Physical Description 16.84 linear feet (6 record cartons and 23 document boxes)
Language(s) English .
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.

Arrangement

Arrangement

This collection is arranged into five series: I. 1945 Presidential Search, 1945-1967; II. 1968 Presidential Search, 1968-1974; III. 1979 Presidential Search, 1979-1980; IV. 1992 Presidential Search, 1992-1993; V. 2001 President Search, 2001-2002.

Description

Summary

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.

  • Series I. 1945 Presidential Search, 1945-1947

    This series, for the most part, contains the records of the Special Faculty Committee on the Presidency. It includes the correspondence received by the committee from members both inside and outside of Columbia nominating candidates for the presidency. There are three versions of the reports collecting the names of the nominees, their qualifications and statements of support, including the final version presented to the Board of Trustees in September 1945. The rest of the series contains the Trustees correspondence in conducting the search over the next two years. There are also newspaper clippings and articles related to search and the appointment of President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1947.

  • Series II. 1968 Presidential Search, 1968-1974

    This series contains the records of the Faculty Search Committee for a Permanent President of the University convened in 1968. There are meeting minutes, notes, candidate files and general subject files, including the records of the Student Search Committee. The records end in May 1969, as the committees considered candidates but the search remains unsolved. The records include correspondence about the search process in 1969 that was shared with President McGill in 1974.

  • Series III. 1979 Presidential Search, 1979-1980

    This series is made up of the "chron" files and correspondence of the Presidential Search Committee in 1979. There are also articles, books, pamphlets and copies of the position advertisement.

  • Series IV. 1992 Presidential Search, 1992-1993

    This series contains three subseries of records that were maintained in the Presidential Search Committee office. Most of the documents of the Presidential Search Committee records fall within the period June 6, 1992 through February 1, 1993, the dates of the announcement of President Sovern's resignation and the announcement of the selection of George Rupp as Columbia's next President, respectively.

  • Series V. 2001 Presidential Search, 2001-2002

    This series contains three subseries of records that were maintained in the Presidential Search Committee office.

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.

Preferred Citation

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

Central Files (UA#0001)

Frederick Coykendall papers, 1923-1956

William J. McGill papers, 1929-1979

Accrual

Additions are expected

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

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.

Revision Description

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.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.

Subject

Heading "CUL Archives:"
"Portal"
"CUL Collections:"
"CLIO"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
"ArchivedGRID"
College administrators Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
College presidents Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
College presidents -- Recruiting Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
College presidents -- Selection and appointment Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Columbia University Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Columbia University -- : Administration Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Columbia University -- : Officials and employees Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Columbia University -- : Presidents Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Columbia University. Office of the President Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Columbia University. Trustees Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Universities and colleges -- Administration Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

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.