Steven Rosenstone will be the next chancellor of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, the system’s governing board decided Wednesday afternoon.

Rosenstone, 59, is vice president for scholarly and cultural affairs at the state's other higher education system, the University of Minnesota.

The decision comes at a critical time for the massive public system and its 32 colleges and universities. The next chancellor will grapple with falling state funding, a swelling number of students and maxed-out tuition.

In a flurry of interviews Tuesday, the two finalists for chancellor of the public system displayed very different styles and experience. William Sederburg, commissioner of higher education in Utah, is a former legislator who touts his success in making higher education a political priority. Rosenstone is a former dean focused on improving the quality of education.

“Project No. 1,” Rosenstone told the Board of Trustees, is to “continually push for the improvement of our academic programs.”

Some members of the Board of Trustees questioned whether Rosenstone had the experience necessary to take charge of the complex system of seven state universities and 25 community and technical colleges. One trustee,

Trustee Duane Benson spoke up first for Rosenstone. "Maybe a little bit more risk, but in my opinion, greater return,” he said. “All his potential’s ahead of him."

At the end of his interview Wednesday, Rosenstone called the process “exhilarating” and MnSCU’s role in the state “crucially important and unique.”

Rosenstone will take charge this summer, when Chancellor James McCormick steps aside after a decade at the post.