Apr 21, 2023 - News

Here's what the University of Minnesota wants in an interim leader

students walking at u of m campus on a bridge

Students at the U could have a new interim president before the semester is over. Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

The University of Minnesota's Board of Regents is fast-tracking its search for an interim president, with a goal of getting a new leader in place in the coming weeks.

Driving the news: The board discussed job criteria and the search process for selecting a temporary replacement for outgoing president Joan Gabel during a marathon special meeting Thursday.

Catch up fast: Gabel announced in early April that she's leaving after four years to lead the University of Pittsburgh.

  • The announcement came two months after she resigned from a seat on Securian Financial's board of directors following conflict-of-interest concerns.

The big picture: The transition comes at a crucial and challenging time for the U, as leaders grapple with enrollment declines, tuition increases and concerns about student safety.

  • Plus: The U is engaged in a costly and politically complicated effort to buy back its healthcare facilities from Fairview Health Services ahead of a proposed merger with Sanford Health.

What they're saying: Regents expressed an interest to appoint an interim leader with executive experience and ties to the state and university who will "stay the course" until a new, permanent president is picked.

  • "I'm personally not interested in the interim president [being] a change agent or someone who has a completely new vision," board chair Janie Mayeron said. "Right now, my view is we need stability, and we need the trains running."

Zoom in: Regents plan to consider internal and external candidates, but intend to limit the search to those who are not interested in the permanent job.

  • Pay won't exceed Gabel's package, but the exact range has not yet been determined.

What to expect: The board plans to put out a call for letters from interested candidates once language can be drafted and reviewed.

  • Finalists from that pool will be chosen at a future board meeting. The board will interview those top contenders at a public meeting before making their decision.

What we're watching: The U's top job isn't the only position in flux at the moment. Regent Ken Powell is stepping down as board chair "to support continuity of leadership."

  • College of Liberal Arts dean John Coleman announced this week he is leaving in July to join the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

What's next: The board will resume its discussions at a special board meeting next week.

  • The goal is to have someone in place before Gabel's planned June 9 end date, but preferably by early- to mid-May.

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