Humphrey School launches national search for new dean

Dean Laura Bloomberg announced she will not return to the position following the end of her contract in June.

Courtesy Photo

Bruce Silcox

Courtesy Photo

Abbey Machtig

The Humphrey School of Public Affairs is launching a national search for a new dean following the recent announcement that Dean Laura Bloomberg will be stepping down in 2021.

In November, Bloomberg announced her decision to leave the position at the end of her current contract in June. Recommendations for the search committee will be announced soon, according to Humphrey leadership.

Bloomberg’s announcement comes as several other administrative roles at the University of Minnesota are left unoccupied or with interim leadership, with many of these searches halted indefinitely as a result of the pandemic.

The University’s administration and leaders from the Humphrey School have decided to launch a national search for a dean immediately rather than appointing an interim dean.

The University is working to create a committee to complete the search for a new dean under the direction of the provost.

The additional responsibility as a result of the pandemic and recent pressure from students for accountability around racial justice in the Humphrey School did not contribute to Bloomberg’s decision to leave the school, she said.

“Those are leadership challenges that if you have a deep ethos of shared leadership, they’re not the cause of stepping away from something. When people ask about that, the answer is no, that’s not the factor,” Bloomberg said.

Kate Ingersoll, who helped petition the Humphrey School to remove Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman from the Dean’s Advisory Council over the summer, said her group will be looking closely at the members that are selected for the search committee.

“The choice of the dean affects not just the school, but the entire community. We would like to see meaningful student and community representation on the search committee,” reads a post shared on the Humphrey School student and alumni Facebook page by the group. “By students and alumni coming together as a community, we can amplify our voices, and advocate for anti-racist [Black, Indigenous and person of color] representation more powerfully than we can do individually.”

Bloomberg said that initiatives she started in the school have largely been resolved or completed, making this an appropriate time to transition out of the role she has served in since June 2017.

These initiatives include restructuring the school’s administration to only have a singular associate dean and launching a fundraising program in conjunction with the University’s larger fundraising campaign. Bloomberg also helped to improve the standing of the school to a top ten ranking and launched a wider equity and inclusion strategy plan.

Work around the new equity and inclusion strategy plan, hiring a more diverse faculty and expanding the curriculum is still ongoing, Bloomberg said.

“I hope [the work] is never done. I think that work is ongoing and having a persistent and consistent look at our curriculum is relevant for the needs of today. I feel very good about the structure that we have in place to do that work,” Bloomberg said. “I think we should all be impatient about getting the work done.”

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and financial challenges, there is no concern about the resources the search will require, said Catherine Squires, associate dean at the Humphrey School.

“I think a search of this level is always a lot of work. We’re in such unknown territory, but I think it’s a good idea to go forward with a national search instead of appointing an interim. I think it shows a commitment to the school to devote those resources,” Squires said.

In her role as associate dean, Squires will work to provide continuity in the Humphrey School’s administration when the transition between deans eventually occurs.