Chatham University

Search Committee Perspectives

The following interviews were conducted with search committee members regarding the presidential search and Dr. Finegold's qualifications specific to the position. The interviews were conducted by Bill Campbell, Chatham University's VP of Marketing and Communications.

Evie Freeman '70, Alumni Board President

Tell me about your experience on the search committee.
Evie Freeman: I was impressed with the dedication of all the search committee members and their devotion to Chatham. The student representatives were quite extraordinary, and they reminded me what an incredible education Chatham offers and the quality of students that Chatham attracts.

From an alumnae perspective, what was important to you look for as you were reviewing candidates?
EF: It was especially important to me that the candidates were visionary and that they had a demonstrated commitment to the liberal arts and to gender equity. That they would also cherish and respect Chatham’s past, but understand how higher education has changed and what we need to do to build on our heritage as we move forward in the future.

What convinced you that Dr. Finegold was the right fit for Chatham?
EF: Dr. Finegold has stellar academic credentials, and he's clearly a strong advocate for the liberal arts. But at the same time, he has demonstrated his understanding of a need for innovation in higher education in our rapidly changing times. I found Dr. Finegold to be a visionary, a charismatic leader who has a range of experiences in higher education, and a track record with innovation. I was especially impressed with Dr. Finegold's proven ability to interact easily with a diversity of people, to bring people together, and to build relationships across academic disciplines and perspectives. He communicates well, has a great sense of humor, and is easy to talk to. He has a warm, friendly interaction style. I was also impressed with the breadth and depth of his international relationships and contacts.

What do you think that Chatham's undergraduate and graduate alumni are looking for in the next leader and how does Dr. Finegold meet those expectations?
EF: I would hope that we all want Chatham to succeed and prosper in the coming years. I think that alumni at both the undergraduate and graduate level want to be proud of their alma mater and its accomplishments, as well as being proud of alumni who have graduated from Chatham. We want and need a leader who has vision, is a strategic thinker, and is future oriented. We also need someone who cares deeply about students, both undergraduate and graduate. Someone who is a collaborator, who works well with others, and also someone who values and respects alumni and Chatham’s rich heritage. I think Dr. Finegold clearly possesses all these strengths.


"I found Dr. Finegold to be a visionary, a charismatic leader who has a range of experiences in higher education, and a track record with innovation. I was especially impressed with Dr. Finegold's proven ability to interact easily with a diversity of people, to bring people together, and to build relationships across academic disciplines and perspectives."


With the recent move to coed and now Chatham naming a male president, how would you address alumnae who may be concerned about the college moving further away from its heritage?
EF:The commitment of Chatham's president to our heritage, regardless of gender, is what is important. Chatham has had women presidents prior to Dr. Barazzone who wanted to move us away from our heritage. When I was at Chatham, we had another long-serving president, a male president, Edward D. Eddy, who demonstrated a commitment to that heritage and led Chatham during a period of growth, prosperity, and a time when Chatham gained a strong national presence as a women's college. As alumni, we all need to recognize that Chatham is now a coeducational university with both graduate and undergraduate programs. However, our heritage as a women's college and our commitment to women's leadership education and gender remain, very strong, on campus, through our Women's Institute and its affiliated centers. The Board of Trustees has many members who are women alumnae and who cherish our heritage and will work with everyone at Chatham to ensure that the heritage will continue.

How does the Alumni Board plan to work with Dr. Finegold during the first year of his presidency?
EF: Of course we will want to meet with him as soon as the timing allows and is appropriate. We hope to work collaboratively with him and the Advancement staff to develop a strategic direction for the Alumni Association Board going forward. We will also want to assist him in meeting alumni throughout the country, and it is our role to help him further his understanding of the alumni population, the heritage of the women's college, and the traditions we hold dear.

Are there any other comments you have?
EF: Yes. It has been an honor to serve on the search committee, but I want to recognize the superb job Jane Burger and Jane Murphy did as co-chairs of the search. I also want to recognize the leadership of our Board chair, Jennifer Potter. These women are all Trustees and also alumnae of Chatham and have really done a remarkable job during this process.

Avery Walker, Graduate Student, Doctorate of Counseling Psychology

What was it about Dr. Finegold that made you think he would be a great leader for Chatham?
Avery Walker: He came in with ideas that no one else had. His style suggests he is present but not overbearing, open to ideas, and respectful of the uniqueness of what the faculty and the institution already come with.

What do you think graduate students at Chatham, are looking for in the next leader, and how does he meet those expectations?
AW: Dr. Finegold spoke about the need and creative ways to provide for more financial support for graduate students. This is a critical issue to graduate students here at Chatham, and any additional help in this area will allow us to be able to sustain our studies and work to our fullest potential.

Given your work in Student/Residence Life and with current students (both male and female), how do you think Dr. Finegold will address or help us adapt to the changes within our campus life related to the coed switch?
AW: He spoke about presence–about being active with the students, being seen, being involved–and I think that will make a world of difference in the transition.


"He came in with these fresh ideas, he was innovative, his thinking on sustainability was beyond academic and bringing it back into the Chatham community and how we can actually live sustainably through the university."


What questions did you find really important to ask him?
AW:Well, being the only minority on the committee, I thought it was important to ask questions about underserved and underrepresented student populations, some things around ethnicity, culture, multiculturalism, diversity and how it can be improved here on Chatham's campus.

What is it about Dr. Finegold that you feel he'll bring to the table around those important issues here on campus?
AW: The first thing he mentioned was that he intends to do is to speak with faculty and staff to figure out where we need to bring in those resources and supports based on his previous experiences and with what’s happening on college campuses around the nation today. I'm certain that he will live up to his statements.

So anything else you'd like to add, just in general about the process or about Dr. Finegold?
AW: I knew this was the guy from the moment he sat down in the chair. While we were going through all the candidates I mentioned if we don't pick this person we'll be okay. If we don't pick Dr. Finegold, we'll say, "dang it, we didn't pick David". He came in with these fresh ideas, he was innovative, and his thinking on sustainability was beyond academic. He brought it back into the Chatham community on how we can actually live sustainably through the university.

Sarah Jugovic '16, Chatham Student Goverment Executive President

Tell me about your experience on the search committee.
Sarah Jugovic: It was great because all the constituents got together across campus and sometimes you don't always get face time with the Board of Trustees – you might have an occasional lunch - but actually sitting in a room with everyone and talking over one of the biggest changes that Chatham will go through, apart from coed of course, restored my faith in Chatham. I never lost my faith in Chatham, but it kind of upped it that much more because we could all get together and everyone's opinions were valid and taken into consideration. There was no one that was more or less. At the end, it was a collective, unanimous decision.

What was it about Dr. Finegold early on and throughout the process that made you think he would be a great leader for Chatham?
SJ: Dr. Finegold had a background that was like none other. He was all about change, and he would be the perfect leader to encompass what Chatham has already become. Every interview with him was a conversation, not a one-way street. I really liked one of the first questions he asked the committee was directed right to the students. That was the first group of people that he was most concerned about.


"...he comes from a place where he's understanding of the changing culture we have going on at Chatham. He is respectful of where we're going, where we've been and how important it is to keep traditions in the future."


What do you think students are looking for in the next leader and how does Dr. Finegold meet those expectations?
SJ: Definitely someone that is going to be a presence on campus. Obviously apart from the administrative role, actually being here on the grounds and seeing what the students are doing; attending basketball games, hockey games, sporting events; eating lunch in Anderson and having conversations face-to-face; someone who we can go to and really confide in. He can be that.

Dr. Finegold will be the first male president since the 1970s and the tenth male president (out of 19 presidents) since 1869. Coming so closely on the heels of the coed change, what do you say to students and alumni who may feel this moves us farther away from our heritage?
SJ: Today's society is ever-evolving and it's important to be at the forefront of women’s issues, but also you need to be inclusive and diverse, whether that is gender, race, class, anything. David definitely has a pulse on these issues with his research, work and accomplishments at Rutgers. He was also there when the Douglass Residential College at Rutgers went through their changes from a stand-alone women's college to a more integrated offering within Rutgers. So, he comes from a place where he's understanding of the changing culture we have going on at Chatham. He is respectful of where we're going, where we've been and how important it is to keep traditions in the future.

Anything else you'd like to add?
SJ: As we went through the process I know the website was updated and we tried to keep everyone in tune as much as we could. I reported out at each Student Government meeting to share with the students what was going on. Also, the search firm, Spencer Stuart, was amazing in the process. Not only in coming to campus and making sure we had a very wide and diverse pool of candidates, but that we understood how to interview, how to ask questions, and how to properly do our job as a search committee. Throughout that process, I felt like you can really put your faith in the process and know that it was done the right way.

David Fraser, Assistant Professor, Biology

Tell me about your experience on the search committee.
David Fraser: There was a will and a concerted framework – a mindset that we were going to get this done. The Chairs of the committee, the two Janes, really did a nice job of letting us wander when we needed to wander and then reigning us in when it was time to coalesce around some decisions.

For me, I went into it thinking that I was the faculty representative who teaches undergrads, so that weighed heavily on me in the sense that I wanted to make sure that faculty who were thinking about undergraduate education were going to be represented.

And also I felt like I was getting to know a process and a group of people who I had never really had access to before, so I felt honored in that sense. I was privileged to get to know some of those people. A number of the members of the Board were demystified – I hadn't interacted with them before, and what I was really impressed with is that they have a deep commitment and they are very thoughtful about what they are doing at Chatham – it's not knee-jerk, it's not without strategy. A lot of them are graduates of Chatham, so they have an emotional connection to the social and cultural aspects of Chatham, as well as the on-paper academic aspects. So that was really encouraging to me.

What was it about Dr. Finegold early on and throughout the process that made you think he would be a great leader for Chatham?
DF: It was very interesting to notice that when he spoke, everybody really listened. There was nobody fidgeting. He had a way of speaking that was not frilly, not offensive or belligerent, but very well thought out and he put his ideas out there confidently, and really sucked you into the conversation. So there was a leadership quality to that–he was ready to lead, to take this room of people he had never met before and guide them through an idea. I really liked his alternate take on education–the American Honors piece is something that is novel and interesting, and I felt like he didn't just put together the procedure for it, but he communicated through the heart of that, which is educating and giving opportunity to people who don't always have that opportunity and getting them where they need to go. And I really felt that struck right to heart of education and a need really. That we have this group of people, these students, that are just not getting their shot, just not getting the opportunity and I felt like he was working in that space in a very interesting and clever and innovative way.


"...what I asked about a lot and what was important to me was did I have confidence – and I do have confidence – that there will be the ability to engage the president in important dialog. I needed to be confident that the candidate would engage in real dialog with the faculty and that they would be listening as well as guiding.."


What do you think students/alumni are looking for in the next leader and how does Dr. Finegold meet those expectations?
DF: Someone with experience with undergraduate education, some thought about that, someone who had been at least managing or in the trenches with undergraduate education. And then really what I asked about a lot and what was important to me was did I have confidence – and I do have confidence – that there will be the ability to engage the president in important dialog. I needed to be confident that the candidate would engage in real dialog with the faculty and that they would be listening as well as guiding. If I was to add one more thing, I would say somebody who is confident that they could grab a group of people – either existing people or new people – and stabilize them. So stability was an important piece for the undergraduate faculty in terms of the faculty themselves, and the deans and the directors.

Dr. Finegold will be the first male president since the 1970s and the tenth male president (out of 19 presidents) since 1869. Coming so closely on the heels of the coed change, what do you say to students and alumni who may feel this moves us farther away from our heritage?
DF: Everybody in the room said we just really want the best candidate. In the questions that we asked him about being a male president, what do you think about the gender issue, he recognized it, he knows that you're not going to please everyone, but he just approached it like look this is something we can address. He said I'm not going to pretend that it's not there, that would be disrespectful, but he talked about some of the things that we would do to reach out to make sure that the people to whom that was a big issue that he was not ignoring that issue or putting it aside.

Mary Beth Mannarino, Associate Professor, Counseling Psychology

Tell me about your experience on the search committee.
Mary Beth Mannarino: I think the most gratifying part of the process for me was getting to know the Board members and to learn how deeply they care about the future of Chatham, and how aware they are of not only the accomplishments, but the areas we need to grow into and move into in the future. Most of that gratification came from realizing pretty quickly that all constituencies represented there – the Board members, the faculty, staff, alumnae and the students – had very similar reactions to the candidates and while we would each look at a candidate from a slightly different perspective, in the end we were all very consistent in what we were looking for.

What was it about Dr. Finegold early on and throughout the process that made you think he would be a great leader for Chatham?
MBM: He was the one. After the first interview with him, we said he "gets" the potential for this institution. It was way beyond him doing his homework. He is a very creative force, but it is grounded in the logistics of how you get things done. So he has a record of having done very creative things in terms of how to approach higher education. He's worked at Rutgers with groups of people who you wouldn't think could be meshed together, like programs in labor and programs in management, and had them come together and make something bigger than the sum of its parts. He knows how to talk across differences so people can find common ground and co-create something really amazing. He knows how to fund the projects that he's considering or working with other people to consider. I think he is a person who, once he's here, will be able to represent Chatham and tell the story of Chatham with genuine passion. His visions for Eden Hall were really innovative and sounded like they were doable. I also think his warmth and his ability to relate to people are such that he will maintain and carry forward Chatham's face into the community by interacting with all the other new presidents in the area.


"I think he is a person who, once he's here, will be able to represent Chatham and tell the story of Chatham with genuine passion."


What do you think students/alumni are looking for in the next leader and how does Dr. Finegold meet those expectations?
MBM: As a graduate faculty member, I think we were looking for an understanding that many of our grad programs are professionally-based, which means a lot of interaction with the community, and the need to keep evaluating resources that are out in the community and where else we can partner to strengthen those programs or build new ones. It was also important to look at the candidates' experience and projections for engaging with funders and other people who can help us grow, and can come to love our mission enough that they want to become a part of it.

Dr. Finegold will be the first male president since the 1970s and the tenth male president (out of 19 presidents) since 1869. Coming so closely on the heels of the coed change, what do you say to students and alumni who may feel this moves us farther away from our heritage?
MBM: I would say he would want to build relationships with every one of those groups, to hear what they think is important, ask how they'd like to contribute, and find out what he needs know so we can continue to offer some of those things that those groups found so valuable.