Contenders for the job of University of Minnesota president should be collaborative, visionary innovators — and they’d better put in their applications fast.
The university committee charged with helping find the U’s next leader released its profile of the ideal candidate Thursday. The document alerts applicants that the committee will begin its deliberations Oct. 29, so those who submit materials before that date stand the best chance to make the shortlist of three or four leading contenders to replace President Eric Kaler.
Last month, committee members traveled to all five system campuses to gather input from students, employees and others on the most desirable traits of the U’s next leader. The document includes the “core leadership criteria” that the Board of Regents approved before the 23-member committee started its work. But officials said the feedback informed a section on the challenges facing the next leader, and committee members will keep it in mind as they review applications.
Most of the 26-page document actually focuses on selling the job to potential applicants, touting the university and the Twin Cities.
“What we wanted to convey to candidates is that this is an awesome place to be,” said Laura Bloomberg, the search committee vice chair and dean of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
Kaler announced this summer that he is stepping down in July 2019, a year before his contract expires. Regents appointed a presidential search advisory committee made up of faculty, staff, students and others to recruit and vet candidates and narrow the list of applicants to several it will recommend to the governing board.
Search firm replaced
This week, the university announced it replaced the search firm it had hired to help the committee after that company, Storbeck/Pimentel and Associates, also signed on to consult on Michigan State University’s presidential search. A partner with Storbeck/Pimentel said applications for the Minnesota job have been rolling in, and the U already has a solid list of contenders.
Bloomberg said the committee wanted to keep the search moving, but the late October target is flexible: “We won’t select a president until we absolutely feel great about who this person is.”
The criteria the presidential profile spells out include a commitment to public higher education, an understanding of the university’s mission, a track record of “leading transformative change,” strong communication skills and an appreciation for diversity. Even as campus communities have debated whether the U should seek a leader with an academic background or also consider applicants from the corporate world, these criteria cast an intentionally wide net.
The list of traits largely echoes a similar profile the university put together in 2010 as it embarked on the search that brought in Kaler. But that earlier wish list did specify experience in an academic setting.
Selling the U
The rest of the new document touts the U’s economic impact, the recognition its faculty has received, the ACT scores of incoming freshmen, the strong ties with alumni and even the 20-room Eastcliff presidential residence in St. Paul.
The document tells candidates the next U president will be called on to increase philanthropy, raise the university’s national and international profile and champion diversity in the student body, faculty and staff.
Members of the public can nominate candidates by sending letters including the nominee’s name and contact information to UMPresident@agbsearch.com. The Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges stepped in to help with the search after the U parted ways with Storbeck/Pimentel.