Friday, November 24, 2006

New Rector at Reykjavík University

The new rector of Reykjavík University was suddenly announced at 15:30 today by the chairman of the Board of Directors, Bjarni Ármannsson. The new rector is another woman, Svava Grönfeldt, who was the deputy of the CEO of Actavis. (See also her brief CV at the University of Iceland, courtesy of MohammadReza Mousavi.) She is also the author of Service Leadership: The Quest for Competitive Advantage with Judith B. (Banks) Strother. (Check the price!)

I will refrain from passing judgement on this choice until I see her in action. One word about the selection process, though. One of our contacts at Columbia University wrote to us saying:

First, most established American universities would announce a Search Committee to search for a new president. The Search Committee would typically comprise members of the board of directors, faculty, and even a staff member and student. Second, once a Search Committee was in place, a formal announcement would be made, with a deadline for applications and nominations. The principal publication that most universities--American or European--use to make these announcements is The Chronicle of Higher Education and sometimes even The New York Times education employment section. The Search Committee would meet to review applications and nominations and typically will select between 7 and 10 potential candidates for initial interviews. Following that, finalists, perhaps 3 individuals, would be interviewed in-depth and even asked to write a statement of their vision for the university. The selection of a final candidate is usually a consensus process.

Whatever process they chose, it was nothing like this, and the decision was not a consensus one. I hope it was a good one, especially because Reykjavík University is at a watershed, and a clear message has to be sent out as to whether the university wants to be what the Americans call a "research university" or some kind of teaching and service institution. However, I can already say that I did not like hearing the chairman of the Board of Directors talk about the university as an "educational company". I might be old fashioned, but a university is not a firm, and has very different purposes from a company.

Fingers crossed.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I googled her and here are a few more pieces of information about the rector:

Here is her English home page at the University of Iceland

Here is her brief CV (as the Deputy of the CEO) at Actavis.

They are a bit contradicting; the home page (at least the English version) introduces her as an assistant prof. while in the corporate CV, she is an associate prof.!