Regents respond to search for interim executive vice president and provost

University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler will name the interim this fall.

Provost Karen Hanson listens during a Board of Regents meeting at McNamara Alumni Center on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018.

Ellen Schmidt

Provost Karen Hanson listens during a Board of Regents meeting at McNamara Alumni Center on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018.

Helen Sabrowsky

University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler finished collecting nominations last week for the role of the interim executive vice president and provost who will take over when Karen Hanson, who currently holds the role, steps down in December.

The interim provost, who Kaler will name later this fall, will bridge the presidential transition in addition to typical duties.

Board of Regents Chair David McMillan said he has confidence Kaler will nominate a capable interim provost soon.

“[The interim provost will convey] a sense of stability to the staff, faculty and students at the University; that the transition placed in the hands of a very capable interim will then seamlessly go into the hands of a new president,” he said. 

In an interview with the Minnesota Daily last week, Kaler said the interim provost will span the two presidencies and provide continuity during the change of leadership. 

When a new president takes office next July, they will name a new executive vice president and provost. 

Regent Darrin Rosha said it’s crucial the next president appoints a provost that compliments their leadership style as the two will work closely together. He added that increasingly often in higher education the provost is seen as a second-in-command to the president. 

He said it was very clear that Kaler and Hanson had an affinity for working together. 

Rosha said that once a new president is named, the board will discuss what qualities it wants in the next executive vice president and provost. 

Regent Michael Hsu said he wants a provost who will help move the University forward, particularly by emphasizing further implementing online courses at the system-wide level. 

Hanson’s decision to step down is a part of the normal transition of leadership, he said.

Hanson, who has held the position for almost seven years, is responsible for overseeing the University’s academics, as well as educational and research missions. She is also involved in the University’s budget process and capital planning, among other responsibilities. 

Hanson announced her resignation in August, citing the “demands” of the job, as well as personal and family “considerations” as reasons for stepping down. She added that that she’s considered resigning for over a year. 

McMillan said throughout his time as vice-chair and chair of the board, he has worked with Hanson on a number of board committees.

“To me she really personified academic excellence in so many ways,” McMillan said. “It was always [from her perspective] … ‘how do we do what’s right for both the students and the faculty and the staff that deliver the mission that we have before us?’”

In addition to her work on education, Hanson also supported and gave direction to the University’s research mission, with some of her best work being on her Grand Challenges Research Initiative, many say.

“She’s just genuinely a good human being and cares deeply about this place and its academic standing,” he said.