About 60 candidates have applied to be the next University of Minnesota president.
Almost 150 people had applied for the job the last time the U sought a new president in 2010, though applications this time around could continue trickling in until the campus search committee recommends finalists, likely later this month. The university had encouraged candidates to apply before Oct. 29, and the committee met last week to size up the applicant pool. It decided to move forward with choosing applicants to interview rather than redoubling recruitment efforts.
“The committee was impressed with the depth and breadth of the candidate pool and voted unanimously that it is adequate to proceed,” a university statement said.
Faculty members had urged the university to release more detailed information on the applicants — including the number of women and candidates of color — to assure the campuses the U has a diverse pool that could yield the first U president who is not a white man. The university’s Board of Regents office said it would share no additional data on applicants for now.
“I’m not aware of any plans to release such data, though I’ve certainly made my advice clear — that this would be a good time to do so,” said Joseph Konstan, head of the Faculty Senate. He said he is also hoping for a sense of how many candidates are qualified for the job.
Abdul Omari, the chairman of the search committee, could not be reached Monday.
The committee is helping to find a successor to President Eric Kaler, who announced this summer he would step down in July a year before his contract expires.
Rita Bornstein, president emeritus of Rollins College in Florida and an expert on higher education leadership, said 60 applicants is a decidedly small pool for an institution of the U’s caliber. She said a few other public universities, such as the University of Central Florida, have drawn smaller pools during recent presidential searches.
“It could be the atmosphere right now: It’s much more toxic than it used to be,” she said. “People are not looking at that job as being as glamorous as it used to be.”
She said her instinct would be to continue recruiting — unless the committee is really confident they have the candidates they want.
Rod McDavis, a managing principal with AGB Search, which had only three weeks to recruit after stepping in last month, said the size of the pool was in line with his expectations. The university changed search firms after its original consultants, Storbeck/Pimentel & Associates, took on the presidential search at Michigan State University.
McDavis said he considers most of the applicants well-qualified.
“In the presidential searches where our firm has provided assistance in recent years, we have found that being a college or university president is still considered to be a high honor and privilege by people with exceptional leadership credentials,” he said.
The university said committee members are working on a list of contenders they will invite for an interview in private later in November. The 23-member committee made up of faculty, staff, students and alumni will recommend three or four candidates to the full board. The board will announce finalists to interview, at which point their identities will become public.
The university is moving to find its 17th president on a brisk timeline, which envisions concluding the search by mid-December.
Konstan said quality counts much more than quantity in the search for the university’s next leader.
“I want to be sure we have enough good candidates, but the total number of applications, without first filtering for whether they are credible, is of less concern to me,” he said.