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UMN Board of Regents moves forward with search for 18th president

During their September meeting, the regents also discussed their relationship with Fairview Health and public safety on campus.
Image by Gabrielle Erenstein
The University of Minnesota Board of Regents held a special meeting on Monday June 26, 2023, in Minneapolis, MN.

As the University of Minnesota begins the academic year, the Board of Regents discussed future plans at the September board meeting on Friday. 

The regents officially began the search for the 18th University president, and also discussed the future of the University-Fairview Health contract and the impacts of their public safety initiatives.

“I’m confident we will hire a dynamic, inclusive and visionary leader to advance the U of M and our service to the state,” said board chair Janie Mayeron.

The search for the 18th University of Minnesota president begins

The University is beginning its search for its 18th president after former president Joan Gabel left in June.

To assist with the search, the University has employed WittKieffer, a national search firm, as its executive search consultant. They will collaborate with the University search committee, which is expected to hold its first meeting in October.

Regents spoke to the WittKieffer team about what they want to see in potential candidates.

The chair of the search committee, Regent Mary Davenport, said one criterion for the University’s next president is for them to connect more with students, faculty and the Minnesota legislature.

“I hope that they hear a board moving forward together — with pride, with ambition, with excitement and ready to work fully with our next leader,” Davenport said to prospective candidates.

UMN and Fairview Health’s future

Interim President Jeff Ettinger discussed the future for the University and its longtime health partner, Fairview Health.

“Time is obviously of the essence, with a decision due by the end of the year on giving notice whether to renew the contract with Fairview Health Systems beyond 2026,” Ettinger said.

Fairview and the University first began affiliations in 1997. The agreement expanded in 2019, putting M Health Fairview into effect through Dec. 31, 2026, with the option to sign for a 10-year extension in 2023.

Medical School Dean Jakub Tolar said many improvements have been made since the beginning of M Health Fairview’s contract. Tolar also said the past five years of the partnership were the best out of the 30 years they have been working together.

“We have not done this alone. Our Fairview partners have been with us at every single point,” Tolar said. “This is a partnership, and I am deeply grateful to the front-line staff at Fairview that have risen to the challenges.”

Public safety in the 2023-2024 academic year

The University implemented additional safety measures across campus last summer in preparation for the 2023-2024 academic year. According to Ettinger and Senior Vice President for Finance and Operations  Myron Frans, these new measures had a positive impact across campus.

Frans discussed the new practices that had been rolled out over the summer in student residence halls. He said the turnstiles and additional video monitoring in Pioneer Hall, as well as the additional locks on student housing bathrooms, have proven successful.

“Over the summer, our housing and residential staff have elevated their safety and security efforts to create an environment where every student can feel safe and cared for,” Frans said.

The University’s police department began partnering with the Minneapolis Police Department, the Metro Transit Police Department, the state patrol and the county sheriff to allocate more overtime to allow for increased patrols on and near campus.

“It takes everyone to participate, and we’ve said this time and time again, but safety is everyone’s concern,” Frans said.

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