DULUTH – The University of Minnesota Duluth's chancellor will retire in 2022, after 12 years leading the northern Minnesota campus.
Lendley "Lynn" Black, the university's ninth leader, has held the role twice as long as the national average. In his time at UMD he oversaw a $170 million, 10-year capital campaiggn; the improvement and building of new campus facilities, including the Heikkila Chemistry and Advanced Materials Building completed in 2019, and a slew of national hockey championships.
He managed the university through years of budget struggles, declining enrollment and a blockbuster coaching lawsuit. A balanced budget was in reach when the pandemic struck in 2020, he said, and enrollment fell 6%.
Federal and University of Minnesota money helped UMD survive pandemic losses, and Black, 69, said he's leaving the campus in a good place.
"This institution is so solid; it will continue to persist," he said.
Black, who replaced Kathryn A. Martin in 2010, began his tenure toward the end of a UMD building boom, when several major facilities were constructed on campus. Part of Black's legacy, said student life Vice Chancellor Lisa Erwin, is a strengthened campus climate.
"Lynn has a tremendous commitment and heart for students," she said. "He's been a constant support and champion for the work we do in student life, which impacts so many aspects of the student experience."
Black has been "extremely focused" on student outcomes, working to make UMD affordable while maintaining a broad range of degree options, said David McMillan, University of Minnesota Regent for the Eighth Congressional District.
"He has managed through some crises with a sense of calm that I think good leaders bring to the table," McMillan said. "I never saw Lynn step away."
Mayor Emily Larson said she's appreciated Black's openness with the city and working with him on ensuring students and their families felt safe during the pandemic.
During his tenure, she's felt student experiences have become more "rooted in the city," she said. "Lynn believes in this community and operates with every good intention, and that just really shows in him."
A theater professor for a portion of his career, Black last served as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Kennesaw State University in Georgia. He will retire at the end of the school year and intends to stay in Duluth with his wife, where they are involved in local theater work and philanthropic efforts.
"In many ways I think I truly positioned the university to take another step," Black said. "Another leader can come here and ... move UMD in some different directions, and I'll love watching that from afar."
University of Minnesota System President Joan Gabel said in a statement that Black elevated the campus' "distinctive strengths, reputation, and presence."
"He has also been a strong advocate for academic excellence, student success, research and Bulldog Athletics," she said, promoting "the arts, economic development, and diversity, equity and inclusion at UMD and within the Duluth community."
Gabel intends to conduct a national search for Black's replacement.
Jana Hollingsworth • 218-508-2450