Report: Condoleezza Rice turned down Penn State president job

cpassant@centredaily.comNovember 8, 2013 

Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was being wooed by Penn State as a successor to President Rodney Erickson, who plans on retiring by the end of June, according to a report.

Rice, who served under George W. Bush, was not interested in the university’s top post, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Rice’s chief of staff told the newspaper that she would remain at Stanford University, where she is a senior fellow on public policy at the Hoover Institution.

"We received a request about this position through a search firm," Georgia Godfrey told the Inquirer. "Our office declined on her behalf since she intends to remain at Stanford. Penn State is a fine institution and Dr. Rice wishes the search committee the very best."

Penn State spokeswoman Lisa Powers said, “Because this is a confidential process, I can't confirm or deny this report. However, if true, the search firm is doing its job in reaching out broadly to find the most experienced and qualified candidates.”

Rice has long ties to Stanford, having been involved in academics and administration since 1981, according to her Stanford profile.

She served as secretary of state from 2005-09 and was the second woman and first black person to obtain the position. She also served as Bush’s national security adviser from 2001-05.

Last week, Penn State had a front-runner in David R. Smith, the president of the Upstate Medical University for the State University of New York. However, a news report by the Albany Times-Union showed Smith was allegedly padding his pay at his SUNY job without authorization.

He was put on paid leave Tuesday and resigned Thursday, the newspaper reported.

The report says Smith received almost $350,000 from the outside sources without the approval of the SUNY chancellor, Nancy Zimpher, who also was rumored to be in line for the top post at Penn State.

The recruitment firm hired by Penn State to help find Erickson’s successor found that Smith allegedly arranged for extra pay through outside companies linked to the university, the report states.

University officials canceled a meeting last week that was believed to have been the venue for announcing the new president.

The trustees said in a statement last week that they plan to name the next president before June 30.

Penn State trustee Anthony Lubrano had said he could not confirm the reports because he had not received a briefing from board leaders, and he said if the reports are true, it affirms the decision to delay the meeting.

“This is another example of why the full board needs to be engaged in discussions with the finalists before any decision is made as to Penn State’s next president,” he said Tuesday evening.

Follow Christopher Passante on Twitter @ChrisPassante.

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