The last time Howard University was looking for a president, the board of trustees picked a pair of heavy hitters as co-chairmen of the search committee: business executive Richard D. Parsons and retired Gen. Colin L. Powell.
It’s hard for a committee to have more star power at the helm than the tandem of Parsons — who at that time, in 2007, was chairman and chief executive of Time Warner — and Powell, the former secretary of state.
This time, the board made a similar move. Noted Washington lawyer Vernon E. Jordan Jr. — who was a confidant of President Bill Clinton and has deep connections in the capital and the business world — was announced Monday as the chairman of a 19-member committee charged with seeking Howard’s 17th president.
First the overlap. Jordan was on the 2007 committee, which recommended hiring Sidney A. Ribeau, the university president who retired abruptly last year. So was M. Kasim Reed, who is now the Democratic mayor of Atlanta.
Now the similarities. There were plenty of notables on the 2007 panel, including Jack F. Kemp, the former congressman and secretary of housing and urban development; Isiah Leggett, then a Montgomery County Council member and now the Democratic county executive; and LaSalle Leffall Jr., an esteemed professor of surgery at the university’s college of medicine.
Public figures on this committee include Kamala D. Harris, California’s attorney general, and Danette G. Howard, Maryland’s secretary of higher education.
An intriguing variation: Last time, board Chairman Addison Barry Rand was on the search committee. This time, he is not.
Jordan, a Howard trustee since 1993 who graduated in 1960 from the university’s law school, said in a telephone interview Monday that a vigorous search would be conducted with “deliberate speed.” He said the search would be aided by a professional firm and unconstrained by a timetable. “Of course, it’s going to be a national and international search,” Jordan said. “We’re going to look everywhere.”
The board will have the final say in hiring a president. And, of course, star power on a search committee is no guarantee of a successful outcome.
Here is the full roster of the search committee, drawn verbatim from the university’s news release:
Benaree P. Wiley, Alumna, Trustee, Principal of The Wiley Group, and Chair, Board 2014 Transition Committee
Kelechi C. Anyanwu, President of the Graduate Student Assembly and Third-Year Doctoral Student in the Counseling Psychology Program
Edward E. Cornwell III, M.D., F.A.C.S., F.C.C.M, Alumnus, Surgeon-in-Chief/Professor and Chairman of Surgery, Howard University Hospital
Lorraine N. Fleming, Ph.D., P.E., Alumna, Interim Dean, College of Engineering, Architecture and Computer Sciences, 2015 Middle States Accreditation Periodic Review, Chair, 1999 Middle States Accreditation Self-Study Taskforce
Leslie Hale, Alumna, Trustee, Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer of RLJ Lodging Trust (RLJ)
The Honorable Kamala D. Harris, Alumna, Attorney General of the State of California
The Honorable Danette G. Howard, Alumna, Secretary of Higher Education, State of Maryland
Marian Johnson-Thompson, Ph.D., Alumna, Trustee, Professor Emerita of Biology, University of the District of Columbia (UDC)
Robert L. Lumpkins, Trustee, Chairman of the Board of The Mosaic Company, and retired Vice Chairman of Cargill Incorporated
Mark A. L. Mason, Alumnus, Trustee, Chief Executive Officer of Citi Private Bank
Stacey J. Mobley, Esq., Alumnus, Trustee, Senior Counsel, Dickstein Shapiro, LLP
Dominique C. Perkins, Vice President, Howard University Student Association
James K. Pleasant, Director, Mechanical, Engineering and Plumbing Services, Physical Facilities Management, Howard University
The Honorable M. Kasim Reed, Alumnus, Trustee, Mayor of the City of Atlanta
Frank Savage, Alumnus, Chief Executive Officer of Savage Holdings LLC and Chairman Emeritus, Howard University Board of Trustees
Dana A. Williams, Ph.D., Alumna, Chair of the English Department, Howard University
Undergraduate Faculty Senate Representative (Pending appointment by the Faculty Senate)
Graduate Faculty Senate Representative (Pending appointment by the Faculty Senate).