PHILADELPHIA In lieu of undertaking a national search, the Franklin Institute has plucked a new leader from within. Larry Dubinski, the current chief operating officer, will become the next president and CEO.
Dubinski, 44, is set to succeed longtime leader Dennis Wint on July 1.
Dubinski, born and raised in Houston and a lawyer by training, has held numerous positions at the museum since 1996, including general counsel and senior vice president of external affairs.
A search committee to replace Wint was formed in September, and a national search was planned but never begun, said the board chairman, Donald E. Morel Jr.
"As we sat down and started outlining characteristics required for the position, we kept coming back to Larry," said Morel, who took over as board chairman in December after Marsha Perelman's eight years in the post. "Like most resumés, there was a gap here and there, but we liked his involvement with philanthropic development and programmatic development, and especially the way he interacted with the staff and external constituents. He didn't have a scientific background per se, but we felt he had a lot of expertise."
After starting at the Franklin Institute, Dubinski briefly practiced corporate law at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, then in 2004 returned to the museum. "I missed the mission aspect of my job," he said.
Morel said the institute feared losing Dubinski to another institution, "and we just concluded this was our best option and in the interest of stability. He's the right candidate at the right time."
Morel declined to speak about the length or terms of Dubinski's contract.
Wint applauded the decision to promote Dubinski.
"He has the experience, he knows Philadelphia, and he brings a lot of the talents that the future of the institute needs," said Wint, whose 20-year tenure as chief was the longest in the museum's history.
Dubinski has been heavily involved in fund-raising as the institute has stumped to finance new exhibitions, renovations, and a major addition scheduled to open in June.
"I think as we look at the ability to teach so many folks, there is no institution in the city like this that reaches so many young people," he said. "My job is to inspire this passion in science and technology learning, and to run an institution in a manner that is efficient, and to keep it innovative with new programs, new activities, and new exhibitions."
Dubinski said that although an endowment campaign was likely to be undertaken at some point in the future, no new large campaign was imminent. Much of the museum's energy in the last few years has focused on the building on the Parkway, but a new strategic plan will put an emphasis on education, on digital learning, and bringing science learning into neighborhoods.
"An awful lot of our community outreach to date has been orchestrated by Larry in conjunction with others at the institute," said Perelman, a member of the search committee. "He's familiar with the community, and his involvement with it at so many levels makes him uniquely well suited to help move the focus of the institute beyond the building."