“It’s a fair question,” Chopp replied. “These were open searches. I think if you talk to anyone on the search committee they will tell you these were open searches.” An open search simply means that the search was open to any applicant and was publicly advertised long enough to give qualified candidates a reasonable amount of time to apply.
Pamela Prescod-Caesar, former Associate Vice President for Human Resources at Colgate, is now the Vice President for Human Resources at Swarthmore.
Karl Claus, Colgate’s former Associate Vice President for institutional advancement and director of capital and annual support, is now Swarthmore’s new Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations.
According to Vice President for Finance and Treasurer Suzanne Welsh, the College employed the head hunting firm Storbeck/Pimentel & Associates to track down potential candidates for the two positions.
While Chopp said she was unaware, but delighted, that Prescod-Caesar applied, Chopp said she did urge Clauss to apply.
“I did mention this to Karl [Clauss], but I mentioned it to a lot of people who [then] applied,” Chopp said.
Chopp said she urged about 20 people to apply for the Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations position, 10 of whom did. There were a total of 89 applicants for the position.
“I told everyone. I think it’s a cool job. I think Swarthmore is a fabulous place, but hey, my job is to go for the best person,” said Chopp.
The search committee comes to consensus on recommending an applicant to the president after a rigorous series of interviews and screenings. It chooses 10-12 candidates for “airport interviews,” which are held off campus. This is to protect the anonymity of the applicants, given that some candidate’s employers may not know they are looking for other work. Then, the committee narrows down the pool to three, who are invited to visit campus. They meet students, faculty, staff, and other community members. Finally, Chopp decides who makes the final cut.
Neither Prescod-Caesar nor Clauss reported directly to Chopp at Colgate, although she said she did do some development traveling with Clauss, who was second in command in Development during Chopp’s presidency at Colgate.
“I think there is some advantage to the person and me that we know each other. But I didn’t go out and pick these people and I didn’t rush the committee. And if you look at who’s on the committee, there’s some pretty strong individuals,” Chopp said but added that the search committee’s final choices were not without benefits.
“When Al Bloom went to Abu Dhabi, three of the staff decided to apply and follow him. When the president of Williams went to Northwestern, several people actually went with him,” said Chopp. “I do think something about that relationship is really compelling to people.”
“I think at this level of position it’s important to know that we also have to convince the people to come here. I think it’s an advantage that they both knew Rebecca because anyone coming into a position like any of the president’s staff level has to feel comfortable with who’s going to be their new boss,” Welsh said. “It’s a great vote in favor of Rebecca that they felt really good about coming.”
Dean of Students Liz Braun said Chopp was an important factor in her decision to come to Swarthmore at the beginning of the last academic year.
“When you’re applying for a position at this level, one of the most important factors is who the president is at the college,” she said. “I actually have a good friend who’s still at Colgate who spoke so highly of [Chopp]. And [Chopp’s] reputation is just stellar within higher education, particularly within liberal arts colleges, so for me that was a compelling reason for me to look at Swarthmore.”