The University of Minnesota Board of Regents will commence the presidential search process next week at its May meeting.
Current University President Bob Bruininks’ term will expire at the end of the 2010-11 academic year. Regents Chairman Clyde Allen said the board will seek to name Bruininks’ successor by next spring.
Bruininks said the incoming president will assist him in selecting individuals to fill what will be vacant top administrative positions, such as Frank Cerra’s senior vice president for health sciences and medical school dean position, which will be left empty after Cerra retires in December.
The board will announce its schedule and plans for the search in a May 13 meeting. In June, the regents are scheduled to choose the Presidential Search Advisory Committee, lead by Regent Patricia Simmons.
The Faculty Consultative Committee recommended four faculty members to sit on the search committee in March. Professor Marti Gonzales, chairwoman on the FCC and one of the selected faculty members, said they will play an important role on the committee.
“Administrators come and go, students come and go, the one constant … are faculty, many of whom spend their whole lives here,” Gonzales said.
To assist in compiling a pool of candidates, the University has hired Bill Funk of R. William Funk & Associates, a higher education consulting firm. Funk aided in the 2002 presidential search that resulted in Bruininks’ appointment.
As a consultant, Funk specializes in knowing the individuals who “might fit the job description, know who’s available [and] might be worth interviewing,” Allen said.
Funk, whose firm is located in Texas, said he will make a trip to Minnesota soon to meet with constituent groups.
Allen said the University will not restrict its prospects to individuals presently within the University, even though the current administration is in the middle of finding long-term solutions to a complicated state funding problem.
“Any candidate we would have would most likely come from a similar situation,” Allen said, acknowledging the University’s plight aligns with the state of higher education all over the country.
A new president who is familiar with the institution already would be beneficial, Gonzales said. However, a “fresh perspective” from an outsider could bring ideas no one has presented yet.
“I just want a person with integrity. I want a person who understands that academia is a different kind of institution than corporate America, who is a scholar of national and international prominence and who has demonstrated excellent skills heading up administratively,” she said.
Of the past five presidents, three first filled other roles at the University prior to their appointment to president. Bruininks was a faculty member, a dean and the senior vice president for academic affairs and provost.
However, Bruininks’ predecessor Mark Yudof, now president of the University of California system, had no Minnesota ties before he took the lead in 1997. The Philadelphia native held an executive vice president and provost position at the University of Texas.
The board is scheduled to outline the search criteria in June, but Allen said the search committee will look for a visionary who works well with other strong leaders.
“It’s going to be a very careful task,” he said.
-Taryn Wobbema is a senior staff reporter.
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