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Committee forming to replace Ayers

Religious Studies Prof. James Childress will chair the committee to find a replacement for Ed Ayers, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, who will leave the University this summer to assume the presidency at the University of Richmond.

The composition of the search committee is likely to be announced later this week. It will consist of about 20 members, including two undergraduate students and one graduate student, as well as faculty members of different ranks and departments, Childress said. The committee will also include a Board of Visitors liaison and three representatives of the College. Foundation, which consists of alumni and others who provide leadership for the College, Childress said.

Childress said the committee will formulate search criteria for an ideal candidate, noting the importance of selecting a candidate who has an appreciation for the University's "Jeffersonian legacy [and] aspirations to excellence" and fund raising skills. As dean, Ayers continued teaching courses on southern history and undertook a prominent fund raising role during the ramp up to the Capital Campaign.

"We are trying to replace a person who has been an exceptionally good dean," he said.

The University has contracted with a search firm that will assist the committee in identifying and evaluating potential candidates from both within and outside the University community.

"We are looking forward to working with faculty and students and working with the search committee and coming up with candidates, interviewing them thoroughly and coming up with two or three candidates to send to the president," Childress said.

There will be two stages in the interview process. The first stage, known as "airport interviews," is likely to be held near Dulles Airport for both internal and external candidates. Following the first round of interviews, some candidates will be brought to the University for more thorough interviews, Childress said.

The committee then will recommend one to three of the candidates to University President John T. Casteen, III.

Casteen said at yesterday's Board of Visitors meeting that he hopes to select Ayers' replacement by May or June, a few months after selecting a replacement for University Provost Gene Block.

Childress specializes in biomedical ethics, has chaired the University's religious studies department, served as the principal of Brown College and was a co-director of the Virginia Health Policy Center.