History | Recollections
of Dorm Life
The inside scoop on how we landed Victor
Boschini Jr. as our 10th chancellor.
By Rick Waters
became TCU's 10th chancellor, even before becoming a finalist, Victor
Boschini Jr. had done his homework.
the 47-year-old candidate from Illinois State University, known as an
enthusiastic fast-talker with an inquisitive nature, had to listen first
-- and answer.
you describe your management style? What are your work habits like? What's
your philosophy on relating to faculty and students? Describe your approach
to fund raising. Give us your position on diversity and athletics." The
12-member chancellor search committee seemingly had every topic covered.
Boschini's turn to do the asking, and he lugged out The TCU Fact Book,
the university manual of campus statistics, thumbed to a tabbed page and
began a discussion that would cover freshmen retention rates, graduate
school enrollment and a host of other topics.
Q & A had begun.
at the trends and asked great questions," said TCU trustee R. Denny Alexander,
chair of the search committee. "He took some of the numbers and made comparisons
with his school and other schools of TCU's size. I was impressed with
the research he had done."
So was the
rest of the committee, which would later spend half a day one Saturday
in December mulling the strengths and weaknesses of the seven semifinalists.
Boschini's energy and enthusiasm were not easy to forget, and his name
was at or near the top of everyone's list.
used a classified ad to lure its next chancellor, it might have read something
like this: Chief administrator wanted for 130-year-old liberal arts
university in Southwestern metropolitan city. Must be successful in building
relationships on campus and off. Must be able to take ambitious growth
campaign and make it even better. Must be articulate and decisive, but
maintain a team-first philosophy.
TCU found its chancellor through old-fashioned legwork. And Boschini's
fast-rising reputation didn't keep him unnoticed for long.
was first mentioned by a few TCU alums who e-mailed Alexander about a
young president in Illinois who was working masterfully with the state
legislature. An executive search firm hired to assist the committee confirmed
that this high-energy college president from Normal, Ill., indeed was
an up-and-comer. He had private and public university experience. He was
articulate. Innovative. Team-oriented. Pretty much what TCU was looking
him directly as we did with the other candidates," Alexander said, "and
the first thing we asked was if he was interested."
left no doubt. He had been at private institutions and public ones, but
it was the private university experience that he longed to have again.
began doing background research, reading Boschini's messages to his own
university community, previous speeches, articles written about him and
his strategic campus plan, Educating Illinois: An Action Plan for Distinctiveness
"It was obvious
he was a viable candidate early on," Alexander said. "The background material
reinforced what we had been hearing about him."
decided from the beginning that he would visit the short list of candidates
at their respective universities as he had done in the search for Michael
Ferrari just five years before. It worked then and would work again.
Alexander spent a half-day with Boschini in his office and walked the
Illinois State campus. "It was not so much a screening as it was gathering
more information," Alexander recalled. "It was helpful to see him in his
own setting, interacting with people at his own institution. I was able
to get a feel for the school and the environment he is in and match that
to his list of accomplishments."
The two connected.
Boschini indicated strong interest in TCU, and Alexander believed Boschini
could be compatible in Fort Worth.
committee sensed it, too. They checked his references and unanimously
selected Boschini as one of the seven semifinalists who would be brought
to Fort Worth for a confidential visit, a tour of the city and campus
and a formal interview.
him to lunch where three other members of the committee joined us," said
committee member Karen Baker, associate director of administration for
TCU Residential Services. "After lunch, we drove the campus and community
for several hours before I took him to the airport in the early evening.
All the while, he asked questions nonstop about TCU. Our interaction provided
the opportunity to not only know him much better, but the chance to see
him in quite a different light than in an interview setting. As I drove
away from DFW, I firmly believed him to be a great match for TCU."
committee would meet one last time -- in that marathon Saturday session -- to
narrow the seven to three. Boschini was one of them.
"I was quite
impressed by Dr. Boschini's energy, warm personality and enthusiasm for
his work as a university president," said Robert A. Seal, university librarian
and search committee member. "A major strength was his willingness to
listen and to bring all stakeholders to the table when issues are to be
discussed and problems need to be solved."
recommendations went before the executive committee of the Board of Trustees
in early January, and throughout the month the finalists returned to Fort
Worth with their spouses for a two-night visit and an all-important dinner
with the executive committee.
By the end
of the month, the committee met again, recommended Boschini to the board
and scheduled a final visit -- this time to welcome him to the TCU family.
The trustees voted, and hours later Boschini was introduced at a press
was all smiles.
"I am very
excited about the future of TCU. Dr. Boschini has the energy and the skills
to build on the important progress made by Dr. Ferrari," he said. "The
[search] committee did an excellent job. I feel very confident that we
got the best person to lead TCU in the future."