Bruininks appoints Rochester chancellor

The Board of Regents will vote to approve the first-ever chancellor on Sept. 7.

Mitch Anderson

An extensive, four-month search involving 37 candidates came to an end last week when University President Bob Bruininks appointed Dr. Stephen Lehmkuhle the University of Minnesota-Rochester’s first chancellor.

Pending approval by the Board of Regents on Sept. 7, Lehmkuhle will transition from his current position as senior vice president for academic affairs in the University of Missouri system into his new role.

UMR, which has offered academic programming since 1966, officially became the University of Minnesota’s fifth coordinate campus in 1999.

Until Lehmkuhle is approved, the University’s highest-ranking official is Provost David Carl.

Currently, Rochester offers 30 academic programs, focusing on health and biological science.

Lehmkuhle, who would receive a $215,000 salary, said he was drawn to the job because the Rochester campus is a new institution, and new institutions tend to be “innovative, entrepreneurial and visionary.”

“There are tremendous assets in the Rochester community – the Mayo Institute, IBM, high-growth industries, other higher education partners – and many resources of the University of Minnesota,” he said. “Together, it creates a foundation of success that provides a special and unique opportunity for a leader in higher education.”

While at the University of Missouri, Lehmkuhle served as vice president for academic affairs from 1998 until he was promoted to his current position in 2004. In 2005 he also spent eight months as interim chancellor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City until the permanent suitor was found.

Lehmkuhle received his doctorate at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn.

The University’s Vice President for Research Tim Mulcahy led the 12-member search committee that narrowed down candidates for the position. He said the new chancellor would face unique challenges since the University is so new.

“It’s going to be a daunting task to get the new University up and running,” he said. “They have to recruit faculty, they have to get some students in place and they have to build the right alliances down there to support the activities.”

Mulcahy said he felt Lehmkuhle was the right man for the job because of Lehmkuhle’s prior experience as a university leader and his innate ability to pull together a common vision from different points of view.

“He’s going to need to be somebody who can work with people, manage expectations and priorities in ways that would put us in the right path at the right time,” Mulcahy said. “He’s the right kind of guy to pull that off.”

Garry Owens, a consultant with Academic Search Inc., the firm managing the Rochester search, said the process was unique in that the candidate would be the first ever to hold the position.

“It’s basically building a new campus,” he said. “We began to look for people who were interested in starting from the ground up.”

Owens added that one of the greatest challenges faced by the search committee was the amount of time they had to find the right candidate.

“It was a very ambitious timeline, in terms of getting this done,” he said. “It was really important the leadership be in place as this campus began to develop.”

Lehmkuhle, who plans to be on the Rochester campus by Sept. 3, said he understood the high expectations placed on the new campus.

“We have an opportunity to develop a unique and nationally recognized signature for the new campus,” he said. “I can’t wait to get to Rochester, roll up my sleeves and get to work.”