Mayor Gets College Course on Job Hunt

By Valerie Strauss and Nikita Stewart
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, December 14, 2006

Figuring out where mayors will land after they leave office is always a popular guessing game.

And so it has been for Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D), who has been rumored to be interested in the open post of president of American University.

When asked this week by the D.C. Notebook if he really was interested, Williams replied that he had not given the notion any thought.

But it turns out he gave it enough thought to sit down earlier this year with Gary Abramson, chairman of the university's board of trustees and the presidential search committee, to talk about the possibility.

According to two sources, Abramson was noncommittal and did not encourage any interest by Williams in the job. Abramson did not return phone calls.

The committee is doing a national search for a new president to permanently succeed Benjamin Ladner, who was ousted in 2005 after a scandal over his spending university money on personal business.

The school's provost, Cornelius Kerwin, was appointed acting president in August 2005 and became interim president in November 2005. Kerwin also is a candidate for the job.

The school's trustees are hoping to attract a respected academic to the job to help raise the international standing of the university, according to school sources.

The case has been made by some in the city -- and even at AU -- that Williams would be a good choice as president, which has seen its last two permanent presidents leave in disgrace.

The squeaky-clean Williams is a financial expert and has been successful at promoting development in the city, using skills that college and university presidents need to attract resources and money. That, at least, is what supporters of the Williams-as-AU president say, though, it doesn't seem -- at least at the moment -- as if that argument will win the day.

Media Savvy

Mary M. Cheh, Harry "Tommy" Thomas Jr. and Tommy Wells are already learning the ropes of being a D.C. Council member.

This week, the three Democrats who won elections in Ward 3, 5 and 6, respectively, have been indoctrinated in a series of orientation workshops on how to deal with the mayor's office and how to understand the city's budget.

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