GRAND FORKS — The committee aiding in the search for the next president of the University of North Dakota has chosen its three finalists.
Andrew Armacost, Laurie Stenberg Nichols and David Rosowsky were selected as the finalists. Their names will now be sent, unranked, to the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education, who will then interview the candidates Dec. 3 on the UND campus. The state board is expected to name the next president that day.
The search committee invited six candidates to UND's campus for interviews. Each candidate spent time talking to faculty, staff, students and community members during their two-day visit. The search committee had about 60 applications for the position.
Armacost completed his service as the dean of the faculty at the U.S. Air Force Academy earlier this year. With more than 30 years on active duty and 20 years at the academy, Armacost served in the rank of brigadier general as the chief academic officer for the institution. The position is similar to a provost.
Nichols is the sitting interim president at Black Hills State University. She was the full-time president at the University of Wyoming until earlier this year. The Wyoming Board of Trustees decided not to renew her contract. Wyoming media have reported that Nichols was allegedly quietly under investigation. Details about the non-renewal are sparse, and Wyoming media are suing for the rights to documents related to the situation.
Rosowsky is a professor at the University of Vermont. He stepped down from his former position as provost earlier this year to allow the university's new president to create his own leadership team. He received a vote of no confidence in April 2018 related to an incentive-based budget model.
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“UND will get an excellent president selected from this group,” said Casey Ryan, co-chair of the search committee and a member of the State Board of Higher Education. Ryan will be the only member of the initial search committee with the ability to actually vote on who becomes the next leader of UND.
Denny Elbert, the committee's other co-chair, said the common factor between all of the finalists was their leadership.
"We're very, very excited about all three of the candidates," he said. "They all bring a great variety and background and skill set to the table. So, we're excited about moving those names forward."
Elbert said it's been both a long and a short haul. The State Board of Higher Education challenged the committee to do an expedited search, Elbert said, noting sometimes these searches can last up to a year.
The next UND president will replace Mark Kennedy, who left UND earlier this year to become the president of the University of Colorado system. Joshua Wynne has been serving as interim president since mid-June.
The next president is anticipated to begin on or before July 1.
This is the second search carried out on UND's campus in the past four years. The search that brought Kennedy to the institution began in late 2015. Kennedy was named president in March 2016. He stayed at the university for nearly three years.
This search is one of three active searches going on or about to start in the North Dakota University System. Bismarck State is conducting a search to replace Larry Skogen. He is retiring next year. Dickinson State University is looking to replace President Thomas Mitzel, who is leaving the western North Dakota college in December for a job in Kentucky.