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People Watch

Appointments, Promotions and newsmakers

University Business, Mar 2005

IN THE NEWS: Frances Fergusson apparently believes 20 years at the helm of Vassar College (N.Y.) is long enough to be in charge. She told the press that she has enjoyed "every bit" of being president. But then she added a humorous comment: "Well, almost every bit. I've always said the first 10 years are the hardest." Fergusson, who is reported to be one of the country's longest-serving college presidents, will step down in June 2006. Although Vassar went co-ed before she arrived, Fergusson is credited with recruiting more men to the once all-women's college. Today, 40 percent of students are male. She is also noted for helping triple the endowment to $648 million... Robert Sloan will be ending his 10 years as president at Baylor University (Texas). After surviving several no confidence votes over the past few years, Sloan and the regents announced last month that he will step down to become Baylor's chancellor. Sloan reportedly was criticized during the past few years for his efforts to reorganize the faculty and for taking on debt for campus construction projects... Phil DiStefano has taken on the interim chancellor's post at the embattled University of Colorado at Boulder. He has been provost and chief academic officer for the past four years. DiStefano takes on new duties at a time of continuing controversy for UC Boulder. The most recent criticism is focused on Ward Churchill, a professor of ethnic studies, who authored an essay three years ago in which he called 9/11 victims "little Eichmanns." His comments went unnoticed until this winter, when students at Hamilton College (N.Y.)--some who lost parents in the terrorist attacks--protested the professor's planned speaking engagement there. Meanwhile, UC Boulder continues to deal with the federal lawsuit over its football recruiting practices and the recent, and much reported, drinking death of a student... Jimmy Jenkins, president of the historically black Edward Waters College (Fla.), has resigned. Once credited with turning the college around, Jenkins resigned after the school was accused of submitting a report to its accreditation agency that was largely plagiarized from Alabama A&M University... University of Maryland is $60 million richer, thanks to two $30 million gifts from long-time supporters. Two alumni from the class of 1950 combined their gifts to create a record donation to a Maryland public university. The gifts from A. James Clark, a businessman who had attended the school on a state scholarship, and Robert Smith, owner of several real estate firms, will support the engineering and business schools, along with the performing arts center.

APPOINTED AND PROMOTED: University of Texas Dallas wants to shake its image as a regional campus and become a nationally recognized research university. Regents moved closer to that goal in February when they selected David Daniel, an engineering dean from the University of Illinois, to be UT Dallas' next president... Ramapo College (N.J.) ended a contentious eight-month president's search in February when it named Peter Philip Mercer as its next leader. Mercer, who takes office July 1, reportedly will be paid $240,000 annually. Mercer has held several positions at the University of Western Ontario, including VP for administration and law school dean. He was selected out of a field of 90 candidates that included State Sen. Joseph Doria (D-Hudson). The search committee took issue with the fact that acting Gov. Richard Codey pushed Doria for the job, even after they took him off the list of semi-finalists. Former Gov. James McGreevey also was criticized for downplaying campus recommendations and appointing his political supporters to Ramapo's board while in office. The controversies drew protests from students and professors... James Will, currently president of St. Vincent College (Pa.), will become the school's vice chancellor... Donald Whelan will be the vice chancellor for university advancement at Texas Christian University. He has been VP for development and university relations at Saint Louis University (Mo.)... Marcellette Williams is coming out of retirement to be the senior VP for academic and student affairs at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The former Amherst administrator worked for UMass in the past, most recently as acting chancellor... Carol Simpson has been named provost and senior VP for Worcester Polytechnic Institute (Mass.) She most recently served as an academic administrator for Boston University (Mass.)... Brown Mackie College (Kan.) has selected Robert Campbell to be the next president of its campus in Orange County, Calif. Campbell has been with the college for four years, most recently serving as a director of admissions... John Hutchinson, the president of Thomas University (Ga.), will become the next president of Lincoln College (Ill.) in July... Trustees at Sierra College (Calif.) have selected Morgan Lynn to be interim president. She replaces President Kevin Ramirez who stepped down earlier this year after running the college for 12 years. New trustees called for Ramirez' resignation after accusing him of mismanaging college finances. Ramirez has denied any wrongdoing and has retained a lawyer. Ramirez said he stepped down because he did not want the conflict to dominate college affairs... Thomas Hearn, the departing president of Wake Forest University (N.C.), will be the next leader of the Knight Foundation Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics.

--Jean Marie Angelo

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