On June 28, Sanford J. Ungar, Goucher’s tenth president, sent an email to the community saying he plans to resign in one year. The announcementcame as a surprise to trustees and students, but Ungar stated that he did not take his decision lightly. With four different contracts during his 13-year presidency, Ungar’s newest agreement was three one-year contracts, in which he would notify the board of trustees if he planned to stay for one or two more years. This summer, he decided it was time to step down.
“Thirteen years is a good, long time,” Ungar said. “I will have stayed about twice the national average. I feel I have much to be proud of and pleased with. I have had a number of colleagues, counterparts at other colleges and universities, who I have seen stay too long and leave under very uncomfortable circumstances. And I know I didn’t want to do that. It would be heartbreaking to feel like I was being pushed out the door.”
After stepping down, Ungar plans to take a yearlong sabbatical to write and explore various other options. He then plans to return as a tenured professor in the History and Communications & Media Studies departments. But during his final year as president of Goucher, he plans to solidify some of his goals for the college. “There is a lot to be done in stabilizing the college’s operating budget,” Ungar explained. “I’d like to see an increase in our recruitment. I’d like to see a slightly bigger overall student body. And I’d like to see more progress on internationalizing the curriculum.”
Meanwhile a search committee is in full-force hunting for his replacement. Norma Lynn Fox ‘76, the Chair of the Board of Trustees, formed the search committee shortly after Ungar’s announcement. The group, which consists of faculty, staff, trustees, student and alumnae/I representatives, began the process of hiring a search firm.
“The search committee received proposals from five firms that specialize in searches for educational institutions such as Goucher,” said Becki Kurdle ‘61, the Former Chair of the Board of Trustees and current Chair of the Goucher Presidential Search Committee. “The search committee then identified three of the best suited to Goucher and interviewed them. The committee then unanimously chose Witt/Kieffer as the best firm to work with us. The search process breaks down into three phases.”
In the first phase, the search firm interview members of the Goucher community about what traits new president should have in addition to highlighting the challenges and opportunities the school has to offer. The profile will be used to advertise the job to potential candidates.
Phase two consists of a confidential screening process of applicants. The committee will review application materials, interview semi-finalists and select finalists. Kurdle promises that “there will be no information given to the campus community during this phase.”
The third and final stage is selection. One to four finalists will come to campus to receive feedback from the community. The Board of Trustees will then have the final say in appointing the new president. The committee hopes to have completed by early March.
Throughout the process, Kurdle and student representative, Joey Fink ’15, want to maintain openness and continual student involvement.
“I hope to be able to represent all corners of Goucher’s student body as best as possible,” Fink said. “My plan is to make my self known among all of the Goucher students and be available to hear from them about what they are looking for in our next president. There will be many opportunities for students to share their opinions, or their hopes and expectations for our next president. One way to help bridge that communication is by going to SGA Senate meetings and listening to students and hearing suggestions to bring back to committee meetings.”
Kurdle notes that the committee will continually update the community on the their progress through Goucher’s website on the Office of the President page.
Although community members are encouraged to be involved in the search process, both Kurdle and Ungar were clear that the current president has no role in finding his replacement.
“I have nothing to do with that process of finding the next president,” Ungar said. “Perhaps if the committee wants me to, I will meet the candidates. If they ask my opinion, I will offer it but I don’t have any formal role.”
However, Ungar still expressed what he is looking for in the 11th president.
“I hope the new president will be international in orientation,” Ungar said. “I think to squander our distinctiveness now would be really foolish. I hope it will be someone who can build upon our international emphasis. Our transcending of boundaries. I hope Goucher will hire somebody who really reveres and respects this place the way I do. And who wants to know the students and understand them for who they are. Because I think we have the most interesting and exceptional students.”
Throughout this experience, Ungar approaches his final year in sadness but also gratitude.
“Every college president is different. It’s an exhausting job but it’s a great job. It’s the highest calling there could be, if you ask me.“
*NOTE: Corrections have been made since September 13