Students call for input in upcoming presidential search

Students have been involved in past University presidential searches.

by Katrina Pross

After University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler’s announced his decision to resign next year, student leaders want to be involved in the search for the next president. 

Kaler announced earlier this month he will step down as president effective July 1, 2019, one year before his contract is scheduled to end. Students were involved in the presidential search to find Kaler between 2010 and 2011 and will also be included in this upcoming search in an unknown role, according to Board of Regents Chair David McMillan.

During Kaler’s presidential search, a student from Minnesota Student Association sat on the search committee, said Maggie Flaten, board associate for the University’s Board of Regents.

Student participation in other Big 10 schools

Other Big 10 schools, including the University of Iowa, University of Wisconsin and University of Nebraska systems, involve students in the process of finding a new president. 

“When a search is started for a new leader, a search committee is formed, and [for all three Iowa campuses] there has been student representation on those committees. Usually, those students are members of student government leadership and include a graduate and undergraduate student,” said Josh Lehman, senior communications director for the State of Iowa Board of Regents.  

The University of Wisconsin system has two students on each search committee for presidents and chancellors, said Heather LaRoi, interim director of communications for the University of Wisconsin system in an email.   

The University of Nebraska system involves student government leaders and student representatives to the Board of Regents in their searches. 

“Our entire University community, including students, has an opportunity to meet all finalists and provide input of their impressions to the Board of Regents,” said Carmen Maurer, corporation secretary for the University of Nebraska’s Board of Regents, over email. 

Current UMN student leaders call for involvement

Members of University student government entities have voiced the desire to be active in the upcoming search. 

Joshua Preston, chair of the University’s student representatives for the Board of Regents, said that students are important in the selection process because the next president will be responsible for how the University responds to issues which affect students like sexual assault, student worker wages and diversity on campus.

“Students need to be involved because the University of Minnesota is a $4 billion institution [that] really shapes the fabric not only of the cities that the campus is in, but also the state as a whole,” he said.  

Preston said that undergraduate, graduate and professional students from all University campuses should be involved to represent different parts of the student population. He said these students should have voting power in who is chosen as president. 

“Students need to be active in that process because I worry that if students aren’t involved with the hiring committee we might get a president who doesn’t understand how higher education has changed in the last two decades and who may not be responsive to student concerns,” he said. 

Catalina Anampa, chair of the University Student Senate, said that students from all five University campuses should be involved in the decision. 

“We have to remember that there are five system campuses and sometimes the perspectives outside of the Twin Cities campus is forgotten,” Anampa said. 

Anampa also reached out to the board asking for the Student Senate to be involved in the search.

“It looks like the Board of Regents will include students in some way, and whatever that way is, I myself will look into every opportunity to be there to talk about not just Twin Cities issues but issues across the board,” she said. 

MSA President Simran Mishra said that community groups such as cultural associations and Greek life should be consulted as well.

“We really think that as the search for the next president starts, students should be at the forefront of that decision. This will have systemwide implications and student governments from all of our system campuses should be involved… Current students, past students, future students and alumni all have a say in this,” Mishra said.