Continuing the trend of Ivy League president departures, Columbia University President George Rupp recently announced he will leave his post at the end of the 2002 academic year.
Columbia now joins Princeton University in searching for a new leader, while Harvard University tapped its new chief last week, and Brown University named its new president in November. In this climate of change, Yale President Richard Levin stands to be the longest serving Ivy League president when Rupp resigns.
Levin is currently serving his eighth year as president. He said he has no plans for departure at this time.
Rupp is credited with a dramatic increase in applications to the undergraduate school and a corresponding increase in admissions selectivity.
Rupp also led a very successful capital campaign that raised $2.8 billion for Columbia. Improved relations with Columbia’s neighbors in Morningside Heights and Harlem and an increased emphasis on the global dimensions of the school’s education and research are among the departing president’s main accomplishments.
Rupp publicized his plans to leave two weeks ago, the same weekend that a president at another New York City school — New York University’s L. Jay Oliva — announced he will end his 11-year tenure in June 2002.
In the Ivies, Princeton president Harold Shapiro announced in September that he will leave at the end of the 2001 academic year after more than 12 years of leadership. After a decade of leadership, Harvard president Neil Rudenstine will leave Harvard this year, and former secretary of the U.S. treasury Lawrence Summers will fill his position. And in November, Brown appointed Ruth Simmons to replace former president Gordon Gee, who left for Vanderbilt University after two years of service.
The Harvard and Brown searches both lasted roughly nine months. The early announcement of Rupp’s departure leaves Columbia 16 months to find a suitable replacement for a leader whose tenure is distinguished by much success. At that time, the Harvard search was not completed, and the Princeton search was still underway, but the Columbia chief was clear that he did not intend to vie for either position.
Rupp said in a press release,”I will not become the president of another university.”
He said he may stay at Columbia to teach but would not commit to definite plans.
Columbia trustee Henry King, the same man who headed the committee that brought in Rupp in 1993, will chair the search committee charged with finding the school’s new president.
Search committee members at most universities try to keep the process confidential, but the Harvard search was not afforded such privacy. Several newspapers followed the search closely and published names of top contenders. At Princeton, although the search is entering its seventh month, no candidates’ names have surfaced.
With four presidential posts to fill at top universities in a little over one year, it would seem likely for schools to compete for new leaders as well as students.
But Levin said universities often choose presidents with strong ties to their own school. Summers was formally a Harvard professor, and Simmons was provost at Brown.