MINNEAPOLIS — The University of Minnesota's Board of Regents on Wednesday advanced Joan Gabel, provost at the University of South Carolina, as the single finalist for the president's job at Minnesota's landmark university.
If ultimately selected, Gabel would become the first female president in the history of the University of Minnesota.
"Provost Gabel has shown strong leadership at the University of South Carolina and her previous institutions, and the Presidential Search Advisory Committee strongly recommended her after in-depth analysis and a comparison of 67 total candidates," regents Chair David McMillan said in a news release.
McMillan said the process is not yet complete, Minnesota Public Radio News reported. The university and the regents plan to "fully engage" with Gable in "multiple public settings," McMillan said.
"If at the end of the process the Board is confident she will succeed as our next president, it will vote to support her. If a vote is not successful, we will return to the pool to publicly interview additional candidates," he said.
If selected, Gabel would succeed current president Eric Kaler, who announced earlier he plans to step down next year after eight years at the school's helm.
Some regents expressed concerns about rallying around a sole finalist at Wednesday afternoon's board meeting, arguing that they and the university community at large should have a chance to meet and vet multiple finalists, the Star Tribune reported.
But eventually all but one regent, Darrin Rosha, voted to support "Candidate A," whose identity was later announced as Gabel's.
Regents who served on the search committee said that members had overwhelmingly agreed that Candidate A was their top choice for the job.
She was described by Regent Steve Sviggum as "someone who can command the room," a contender with a knack for engaging campus community members, donors and lawmakers.
"I can see this individual being passionate and a great advocate for us," Swiggum said.
When Kaler announced his departure plans, McMillan said the university would look for a candidate with a strong academic background and well as "a strong business sense," to deal with the likelihood of fewer state dollars.
The University of Minnesota has five campuses across the state — the Twin Cities, Crookston, Duluth, Morris and Rochester — with a total enrollment of nearly 42,000 undergraduates and nearly 13,000 graduate students in the semester of spring 2018.