By Alina Ryzhonkova – Deputy News Editor
With Craig Calhoun having announced his early departure from LSE just a few weeks ago, the search to replace him is already in full swing. Even at this early stage of the process, some key differences are emerging to the last time LSE embarked on a search for a new director. Consultations and town hall meetings, such as the one held on Friday, demonstrate the more inclusive nature of this new search and the eagerness of the Directorship Selection Panel to get as much input from various groups at LSE as possible in order to ensure that the new director is the best possible fit.
Dr. Susan Liautaud took the lead at the Town Hall on Friday, stressing the importance of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in informing the search for a new director, as well as the centrality of students in all decisions. A variety of questions were posed to the panel, some quite technical and logistical, others more ideological, but almost all questions led back to the issue of whether the new director should be a beacon of academic excellence, or an outstanding manager. Although Dr. Liautaud was quick to assure that there were no “sinister” circumstances surrounding Lord Myners’ recent departure, questions regarding his criticism of the LSE bureaucracy did arise
and steer the conversation towards emphasizing the importance of a director with a strong managerial background. While there was a certain hesitance to place managerial skills well above academic achievements on the list of priorities for the new director, the desire for someone who is able to effectively navigate and reform the existing LSE bureaucracy was obvious.
The issue of remuneration came up, with students questioning the apparent emerging trend at LSE to double the pay of new directors. Again, the panel was quick to reassure everyone that the process of determining pay will be transparent and rigorous, with myriad factors going into determining the pay package a new director gets. While the new director will have to be reasonably compensated based on his or her experience and other qualities, LSE is “not sitting here with a blank check”. The panel dissipated some student concerns in the meeting and made a clear effort to put student anxieties to rest, outlining plans for future consultations and extensive student involvement. It was not a wholly one-sided process though, with Dr. Liautaud promising to take a proposal to make the new director’s bonus at least partially contingent on student satisfaction to the Remunerations Committee. The Town Hall provided a welcome glimpse into the director recruitment process and gave students a chance to contribute to shaping the process.