Legislative appointees talk new regents, presidential search

Regent Patricia Simmons discussed the status of the search, hearing recommendations from the Regent Candidate Advisory Council.

by James Nord

A Legislature-appointed committee met Friday to discuss the future makeup of the University of Minnesota Board of Regents and heard an update on the presidential search.

The Regent Candidate Advisory Council, a group of leaders from across the state, began preliminary planning to replace four regent positions opening in 2011. Regent Patricia Simmons spoke to the council and received advice about the search for President Bob Bruininks’ successor.

Simmons said that the Presidential Search Advisory Committee, which she chairs, has more than 100 nominees for the position.

“The pool of candidates for the search is rich,” Simmons said. “We’re working on bringing it down.”

Simmons told the committee that search has been looking at both internal and external applicants. The University isn’t unwilling to consider international candidates but has yet to do so, she said.

A search firm hired by the University, along with online submissions and faculty recommendations, has been used to create the pool of candidates.

Regents hope to conclude the search by early winter at the latest.

In addition to selecting a new president in 2011, up to four new regents could be appointed.

At least two regents, Anthony Baraga and Dallas Bohnsack, told the council they will not be seeking reappointment after serving two six-year terms each, according to a draft RCAC press release.

It is unclear if Regents Steven Hunter and David Larson will seek re-election.

If all four of the regents are replaced the board could experience a dramatic demographic change.

Together they make up four of the eight men on the 12-member board and Bohnsack is the only farmer, according to the council.

New candidates will be selected for interviews on Dec. 10. After interviews in January, the council will advise the Legislature on their choices.

Candidates will be selected finally at a joint session of the Legislature next session.