Editorial: Board of Regents decision to select one Presidential finalist is a mistake

Students, faculty and staff should have the option to deliberate on multiple candidates, rather than be stuck to one.

Daily Editorial Board

On Wednesday, the University of Minnesota’s Board of Regents met to discuss finalists in the search for the University’s next president. Due to the high-profile nature of the candidates, some have requested to remain anonymous unless they are considered to be the sole front-runner in the race.

The Minnesota’s Data Practices Act requires names become public only after finalists are formally selected. Leading up to the meeting, the Minnesota Daily reported that several regents had voiced concerns that the search process would conclude with a single finalist — bowing to the wishes of the candidates, forgoing transparency for the sake of avoiding candidate embarrassment and shielding candidates from receiving backlash from current employers.

This happened 8 years ago, when the University announced that Eric Kaler was the sole finalist. Now, it has happened again. Joan Gabel was announced Wednesday night as the only finalist in this quick and dirty presidential search. 

Although we commend the board for moving forward with a candidate who could be the first female president in University’s history, we are vehemently against this practice. The search up to this point has been hotly contested. We feel, as we have articulated in past editorials, the student voice was not represented in the search and has since been disregarded. 

The University President is not beholden solely to the Board of Regents — he or she holds the power to influence decisions that affect students’ lives. We believe that multiple finalists should have been selected in order for the student body and the general public to present input on multiple candidates. This public vetting is crucial, as candidates are vying for a top-level, public position. 

Although we are happy the board decided to move forward with a candidate who represents a gendered diversity, we believe it was a mistake to name a single finalist. This search is as much for students, faculty and staff as it is for University administration. The voice of the University’s community should be heard and weighed. But, we feel that this was not the case in the Board’s decision to name a singular finalist.

Clarification: The editorial has been updated to clarify that Gabel is a presidential finalist.