Gabel postpones search for new human resources head, names interim

After an eight-month search, the candidate offered the position backed out.

University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel fields questions from the Minnesota Daily in her office on Thursday, Sept. 5.

Jasmin Kemp

University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel fields questions from the Minnesota Daily in her office on Thursday, Sept. 5.

Dylan Anderson

A monthslong search to find a new head of human resources at the University of Minnesota has failed.

In an email to the University community Thursday, President Joan Gabel postponed the search that started in April and named an interim vice president of human resources. Ken Horstman, current senior director of total compensation, will take over the role at the beginning of January.

The candidate offered the position withdrew their candidacy in November, according to a memo sent to the Board of Regents last month. Gabel said the three other finalist for the job are no longer being considered. 

“It is not uncommon for people to reach the end of the process and take in to consideration the depth of the life change, having gone through this decision process myself very recently, and make a different decision,” Gabel said. “Of course, we are disappointed, but it is not exceptionally abnormal for this to happen.”

The move comes with a slight change, as Gabel said Horstman will report directly to her. 

Horstman has been with the University since 2014 and has spent four years in his current role. He has both a bachelor’s and master’s degree from the Carlson School of Management. Before coming to the University, he spent almost 17 years in human resources for Emerson, a multinational company based in Missouri. 

“We are very happy that Ken Horstman is willing to step in as an interim with a lot of experience in both higher [education] and private industry,” Gabel said. 

Naming an interim leader allows Kathy Brown to vacate the role. She announced she would step down last spring but agreed to stay on until the end of the year.

Gabel said they will “move forward to find the absolute best person who’s professional and personal circumstances make them able to take on this really important role.”