The Nov. 14 issue lists the members of the search committee for a new president of Princeton University. Of the 17 members, fully eight are corporate or financial (investment) executives, and one a law professor. A 10th member comes from the legion of University administrators, a deputy dean. There are four faculty members, one from engineering; two undergraduates (a nice touch); and a graduate-school student.
If our University were at heart a community of scholars and students, this committee would be a bizarre mismatch in the search for a new leader, who might be given the title of provost. If, by contrast, the University were a business — with students as products, the faculty as plant, and the business, legal, medical, and financial sectors as the market for those products — then this committee would be the right tool for placement of a president and CEO. The latter does seem to be the case. And considering also the precedent of the departing president as a highly compensated part of the nation’s interlocking corporate directorate, all the more appropriate.