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Search process begins to fill VP of Human Resources position

The search process to fill the position of vice president for human resources has begun with the appointment of a search committee and the selection of Heidrick and Struggles, an outside search firm, to assist in the nationwide recruitment effort.

Joan F. Rice, MIT's current vice president for human resources, is retiring this Friday after 26 years at the Institute. Associate Provost Phillip L. Clay will serve as the interim vice president for human resources, according to Executive Vice President John Curry.

"Professor Clay is well respected in the MIT community and his prior administrative experience as a former department head and leader of a joint MIT and Harvard research center will be valuable in this interim role," Mr. Curry said. "In addition, Professor Clay is already an active member of the Academic Council."

The areas that now report to Ms. Rice include the Medical Department and the various sections of the Personnel Office. The latter include Benefits and Systems, Employee Relations, Faculty and Staff Information Services, the Performance Consulting and Training team, the Family Resource Center, the Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Programs and the Disability Services/Accessibility Services office. Ms. Rice also recently served as the sponsor of the Human Resource Practices Development (HRPD) team, which submitted its recommendations to the senior administration earlier this year.

The search committee will be chaired by Professor Emeritus Robert McKersie of the Sloan School of Management. Members of the committee include Sharon Bridburg, special assistant to the dean for personnel, Office of the Dean of Students and Undergraduate Education; Regina Caines, special assistant for affirmative action and equal opportunity, Personnel Office; Professor Isabelle de Courtivron, foreign languages and literatures; Allison Dolan, director of I/T staff development and resource management, Information Systems; Anne Glavin, chief of Campus Police; and Margaret Ann Gray, manager of the Performance Consulting and Training team, Personnel.

Other members of the search committee include Annette Jacobs, executive director, Medical Department; Marc Jones, administrative officer, chemistry; Wade Kornegay, division head, Lincoln Laboratory; Heather Mitchell, co-convener, Working Group on Support Staff Issues; James Morgan, controller; Doreen Morris, assistant provost; Carl Nielsen Jr., assistant director, Lincoln Laboratory; Douglas Pfeiffer, assistant dean, School of Humanities and Social Science; Victoria Sirianni, director, Department of Facilities; Professor Kenneth A. Smith, chemical engineering; and Anne Wolpert, director, Libraries. (Several additional members may be appointed later.)

"As a result of the dedicated leadership of Joan Rice, the human resource function at MIT now plays a crucial role in the effective functioning of this academic community," Professor McKersie said. "The search for a new vice president for human resources will benefit immensely from the work of the HRPD team. I hope that all areas of the community will share their thinking about this important position with the search committee, as well as forward names of potential candidates."

Patricia Brady, the new senior project director in Mr. Curry's office and former leader of the HRPD project, will work with a panel of MIT faculty and staff to build a "competency model" for the position of vice president for human resources. The model, a description of characteristics (typically related to skills, knowledge, traits and motives), will be a tool for the search committee to use in assessing candidates. More specifically, defining the competencies that are needed to be effective in this role will help identify candidates whose style of working should be a good fit both for this vice presidency and its position in the MIT community.

"The competency model will be a way for us to start implementing a recommendation from the HRPD team," Mr. Curry said. "I think it's important for the community to see that we want to apply these ideas and learn from them at the senior level of the Institute."

Professor Clay said, "I look forward to working with Mr. Curry and the excellent staff that Ms. Rice has in place to keep the human resources agenda at the Institute moving forward."

The search is expected to take three to four months.

A version of this article appeared in the April 28, 1999 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 43, Number 28).

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