After a week of controversy over how the University of Minnesota handled its search for director of the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, interim President Jeff Ettinger told the Board of Regents on Friday that a new international search would start in the 2025-26 school year.

Administrators heard strong interest from constituents, Ettinger told the board:

"Because of the community-facing and leadership role the director holds, I determined it was important that these voices be heard. The center's leader needs to be able to bring people together around this critically important and sensitive work."

When the school offered the directorship — along with a history professor position — on June 5 to Israeli historian Raz Segal, two longtime board members of the Holocaust and Genocide Studies Center quit in protest, and the university announced it would pause its search Monday.

Segal said in an interview Friday that the University's actions "are totally unacceptable."

Resigning department board members Karen Painter and Bruno Chaouat cited, among other things, an article Segal published days after Hamas' Oct. 7 attack on Israel killed 1,200 Israelis and Israel declared war. That article, in Jewish Currents, said Israel's assault on Gaza "is a textbook case of genocide unfolding in front of our eyes. I say this as a scholar of genocide, who has spent many years writing about Israeli mass violence against Palestinians." The piece also said Hamas had committed mass murder of Israeli civilians.

By Sunday morning, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas sent an advocacy alert citing the article, calling Segal an anti-Zionist and encouraging recipients to contact U administrators and regents.

Segal, a professor at Stockton University, said in an interview that on Monday, Provost Rachel Croson called him to say the U was still interested in offering him the position of associate professor of history, but not director.

"The university should backtrack on all of this," Segal said Friday, hours after Ettinger's remarks to the regents. "It should acknowledge the huge mistake that it has done here, the dangerous move that it has initiated, and it should offer me the job as it was offered me [originally]."

By legitimizing attacks and pressure against him, Segal said, the university is endangering its reputation and that of the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies. And he added that the center is not just about Jewish people — there are also Indigenous people, Armenians and other communities who have histories of genocide, mass violence and forced displacement.

"I bring a very broad perspective," Segal said. "I do a lot of community outreach with very many different kinds of communities, which as I showed in my work and as I presented to the board, actually enhances the study of Jewish history and the study of the Holocaust and the study of Jewish communities."

Support has swelled for Segal in recent days: An online letter soliciting support for him lists more than 700 signatures — more than 200 from the University of Minnesota. The letter condemns the move to pause Segal's appointment and calls on the administration to allow his hiring to proceed.

The letter called Segal "a well-credentialed and widely respected Israeli scholar and genocide expert … This is an outrageous violation of both academic freedom and the integrity of the faculty hiring process, dictated by protests from a handful of faculty and outside groups opposed to Dr. Segal's expert analyses of Israeli violence in Gaza."

On Friday, Ettinger said the international search for the director at the center included academic talks and meetings with the board and the center. Unlike in a prior search for the position, he said, no community members were named to serve on the search committee.

Ettinger told regents the center's interim director, Joe Eggers, has agreed to stay in his role until a new director can be found, and that the U "will ensure that this new search includes a robust community engagement plan that considers multiple points of view internal and external to the university."

In a Star Tribune interview, Ettinger said that based on the center's history and the current environment, the director position has "keen interaction with the broader community here" and not involving community members was an omission. With the conflict in the Middle East and a Department of Education investigation into antisemitism on campus — in addition to Congressional investigations into other universities amid student protests — "it's an area of unquestionably heightened concern. ... I guess, to me, that's where the administration does potentially bear a role at least in setting the goals of the position, that it isn't purely an academic faculty goal when you're dealing with the director of the position who is going to interact with the public on that kind of basis."

The executive committee of the U's chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) wrote a letter to campus leaders this week voicing alarm. By overriding the job offer to Segal, the central administration "has rewarded the brinkmanship of two faculty members acting outside the norms of acceptable faculty conduct, overruled a comprehensive faculty-led process of evaluating candidates for this position, and violated established policy and precedent regarding collegiate hiring practices," the committee wrote.