Publicity mayhurt search for president

Joel Sawyer

The search for a successor to University President Nils Hasselmo is proceeding on schedule, said members of the search committee in charge of naming the next leader of the University.
But considering certain problems the school is facing, there is some question about whether the University will be able to attract a top-notch administrator.
Larry Faulkner, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said Wednesday that he was nominated for the position, but would not be applying. “Frankly,” Faulkner said, “(Minnesota) is a strong school but it has some very serious problems.”
Faulkner, who is a finalist for the presidency of the University of Michigan, said Minnesota’s ongoing tenure debate and the financial problems in the University’s Academic Health Center were reasons he would not apply. “(Minnesota) has some work to do,” Faulkner said.
He added that he thought the University’s dilemma might make it difficult to attract potential candidates. “Those problems are not going to help,” he said.
But Board of Regents Chairman Tom Reagan said Faulkner’s concern with tenure and the health center were not shared by other candidates who have applied. “We’ve been amazed at the lack of concern people have shown,” he said.
John Imholte, a professor of history at the Morris campus and a member of the presidential search committee, said Faulkner’s comments surprised him.
“It’s unfortunate but understandable,” Imholte said. “The University certainly has received its share of national publicity. But to just back into a position because of (media attention) — that disappoints me.”
Reagan said the pool of candidates was excellent and he felt very good about the work the search committee had done so far.
Since Hasselmo announced last year that he would retire in July, there has been much speculation about who will succeed him. So far, committee members have been tight-lipped about revealing names of candidates.
Matt Musel, the student representative on the search committee, said revealing names at such an early stage in the search process often scares away candidates who fear losing their current jobs because they are interviewing somewhere else.
That is why committee members have vowed to maintain the confidentiality of all those who have applied or been nominated, he said.
“Everybody on the committee is aware that if we break that kind of trust we might lose a strong candidate,” Musel said.
As of Wednesday, the 11-member search committee, approved by the Board of Regents in June, had narrowed a candidate pool of slightly more than 200 individuals to fewer than 15 candidates.
Nine of those remaining individuals have undergone reference checks and will be interviewed at confidential, off-campus sites during the next month, said Steven Bosacker, executive director and corporate secretary for the regents.
Reagan said that even he did not know the names of the nine candidates who will be interviewed in the coming weeks.
Although no names have been announced, some information is known about the candidates who have applied or have been nominated.
According to search committee documents, about 70 of the more than 200 original candidates are current or former presidents and chancellors of universities, many from major flagship and land-grant institutions.
About 50 in the total pool of more than 200 are women, and more than 30 are people of color.
Bosacker said that the final candidate pool would not be confined to those nine individuals selected for interviews at this time. He said several other candidates will undergo reference checks and may also be interviewed. Bosacker added that the committee continues to take applications and nominations for the job.