GRAND FORKS -- After a search process that has lasted just over six months, the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education is expected to name the 13th president of UND on Tuesday, Dec. 3.
The meeting will be held at the Energy and Environmental Research Center on UND’s campus beginning at 8:30 a.m. After some opening remarks from search committee co-chairs Casey Ryan and Denny Elbert, the state board will spend an hour each interviewing finalists Andrew Armacost, Laurie Stenberg Nichols and David Rosowsky in an open meeting.
“We have a pool of three great candidates,” SBHE chair Nick Hacker told the Grand Forks Herald last week. “I think they’re very well qualified and would do a wonderful job. In this process, you really have to rely on the search committee and the work they’ve done, which is really wonderful.”
Hacker spoke about the community engagement between the candidates and the community during the candidate visits, noting he looks forward to speaking with each of the finalists.
Following the interviews, the state board will go into executive session for an undetermined amount of time before returning to open session to announce the next UND president.
Following that announcement, Hacker and the new UND president will enter executive session again to negotiate the president’s contract before entering open session again to give formal remarks.
The meeting will be live-streamed on the North Dakota University System website at www.ndus.edu/live-stream.
Though the search didn’t officially begin until May 30, when the SBHE named Joshua Wynne as interim president and named Denny Elbert and Casey Ryan as leaders of the search committee, rumors of former UND President Mark Kennedy being on the outs began in April.
On April 9, the Herald reported that Kennedy was rumored to be leaving the university after less than three years. The next day, the University of Colorado had confirmed that Kennedy was the sole finalist for the president’s position, which oversees four campuses in the state.
By mid-June, Kennedy had his last day and Wynne had taken over leadership of the campus.
At the end of June, the rest of the search committee members had been named and public input sessions with community members, both on and off campus, began, continuing over the next several months.
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More than 60 individuals applied to become the president of the state’s flagship university. That list continued to be pared down until six semifinalists visited campus in November. Each spent about two days on campus meeting with students, staff, faculty and community members. On Nov. 22, the list was narrowed to three.
The finalists have wide-ranging backgrounds, from experience in the Dakotas to leadership at an East Coast institution.
As the former dean of the faculty at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Armacost brings a unique background to the presidential search process.
Throughout the public listening sessions held in November, Armacost spoke of his “love your people” leadership motto, which means respecting and caring for people no matter their background.
Nichols, interim president at Black Hills State University and former president of the University of Wyoming, has experience in the region.
Before becoming president at UW, Nichols was provost and executive vice president for academics at South Dakota State University from 2009 to 2015. Nichols grew up in South Dakota and touts her experience in K-12 education as one of her defining factors.
Nichols’ contract at the University of Wyoming was not renewed earlier this year, however. The non-renewal came as a shock to the campus and Nichols herself, Wyoming media reported. The reason for the non-renewal is shrouded in mystery for the most part, and Nichols told the Herald she was never given a reason why it happened. While media in Wyoming reported that Nichols was apparently under some sort of investigation, public details about that information are sparse and a lawsuit has been filed by multiple parties in the case.
Rosowsky, professor in the civil and environmental engineering department at the University of Vermont and former provost at the university, has experience working and leading at research institutions in the country. Before arriving in Vermont, he was dean of engineering at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y. He also served as head of the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering at Texas A&M University.
Rosowsky noted that he is a “communicative, visible” and “high-energy person,” who is well known on his campus. He would bring that same vigor to UND, if selected.
After six years, Rosowsky stepped down from the provost’s position at the University of Vermont earlier this year to allow the new president to form his own administrative team.
While at the University of Vermont, Rosowsky helped roll out an incentive-based budget model, similar to one being used at UND. In April 2018, Rosowsky received a vote of no confidence from a small segment of the university.