Board of Regents appoints Presidential Search Committee

After a lengthy discussion, the board took action in its search for the next University president.

Luke Feuerherm

After much discussion, the University Of Minnesota Board of Regents has appointed 12 members to the Presidential Search Advisory Committee.

Over the next few months, the committee will be responsible for narrowing the national field of candidates down to a select few, from which the board will likely select a replacement for University President Bob Bruininks.

The list of search committee members was highly scrutinized.

Regent Dean Johnson said University professors had been given too much weight on the committee, which is composed of seven University employees, six of whom are professors. 

“I don’t want to be difficult or obstinate about this,” Johnson said. “When we put together lists of search committees we have to ask what the end result going to look like. … In order to do that we need to have balance, and a number of things on this list strike me as unbalanced.”

In addition to University employees, the committee includes two attorneys, one graduate student and one retired judge. It will be chaired by regent Patricia Simmons.

While Johnson was the only regent to vote against the list, others raised concerns about constituencies left off the list.

Regent David Larson said the board erroneously omitted Minnesota business interests from the list. However, knowledge that committee chair Simmons had already met with nine local chief executive officers and has other meetings scheduled assuaged several regents.

Similar complaints arose over representation of agriculture, minorities and other interests.

Eventually the board approved the list because it said the committee was intelligent enough to strictly follow the guiding principles, or “charges,” of the process – which state that members shall “act in the University’s best interest as defined by the board and not on behalf of any specific constituency or candidate.”

The board also noted that the committee does not ultimately have the say as to who the next president will be.  Members pointed to the appointment of President Bob Bruininks as an example of a “failed search.”

Bruininks was considered as president only after the board rejected the initial candidates that the search committee presented.

Because discussion of the candidates consumed nearly the entire hour and fifteen minutes of its afternoon meeting, the board did not have enough time to fully discuss the charges and the characteristics the next president should have.

As a result, the board approved the list of members but pushed back the deadline for the other two measures to Monday at noon.

“You know, we are often accused of having too many unanimous votes and no real controversy,” said board chair Clyde Allen. “And I kind of think it’s neat that on probably the most important discussion, the most important duty that we have, that we had good discussion with a lot of differing ideas on it.”

List of committee members:

·         Chair, Patricia S. Simmons – Regent

·         David A. Bernlohr – Distinguished McKnight University Professor and Head Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Biophysics Joint Department of the Medical School and College of Biological Sciences, University of Minnesota

·         Nancy E. Carpenter – Professor of Chemistry, Division of Science and Mathematics, University of Minnesota Morris Morse Alumni Award for Undergraduate Education

·         Etty DeVeaux – Administrative Director, Department of Plant Biology and Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences and College of Biological Sciences, University of Minnesota

·         Marti Hope Gonzales – Associate Professor, Department of Psychology College of Liberal Arts, University of Minnesota

·         Elliot S. Kaplan – Attorney and Partner, Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi

·         Ryan Kennedy – B.A., Political Science, College of Liberal Arts 2009, Candidate, Master of Public Policy, Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs

·         Richard Leppert – Regents Professor, Department of Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature College of Liberal Arts, University of Minnesota Morse Alumni Award for Undergraduate Education

·         Allen S. Levine – Dean and Professor, College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resource Sciences University of Minnesota, Director, Minnesota Obesity Center

·         Bruce W. Mooty – Attorney and Principal Gray Plant Mooty

·         Carol M. Person – Judge (retired), Minnesota District Court, Sixth Judicial District, Duluth

·         Eric S. Sheppard – Regents Professor, Department of Geography, College of Liberal Arts, University of Minnesota