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Regents select three presidential finalists to visit UMN campuses

At their February meeting, the Regents also voted unanimously to approve a letter of intent to buy back the University of Minnesota’s teaching hospital from Fairview Health.
Image by Photo by Gabrielle Erenstein
Interim-President Jeffrey Ettinger and Board Chair Janie Mayeron at a University of Minnesota Board of Regents special meeting on Monday June 26, 2023.

At their February meeting on Friday, the Board of Regents approved the three final candidates for the presidential position. The selected candidates will hold open forums across all five campuses, and be interviewed by the Board after. The next president will be selected by the end of February.

The Board also reviewed and unanimously approved a letter of intent to buy back their teaching hospital from Fairview Health Services.

The deal, as outlined in the letter, will see the University of Minnesota paying Fairview 51% of the agreed-upon price by the end of this year, and the remainder by the end of 2027. The letter of intent set a deadline of Sept. 30, with the opportunity for an extension.

And then there were three

The Board was presented with the four finalists for the position of 18th University President, as decided by the Presidential Search Advisory Committee (PSAC) in January. Of the four that were brought before the Board, only three were advanced to the public forum and interviewing stage of the process in a unanimous vote.

The three candidates, Laura Bloomberg, Rebecca Cunningham and James Holloway, were named in a press release sent out Friday afternoon. According to the Board’s Executive Director and Corporate Secretary Brian Steeves, interviews with the candidates will begin as soon as Feb. 12.

Bloomberg is the current president of Cleveland State University. Before that, she served as the Dean for the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Cunningham is the current vice president for research and innovation at the University of Michigan, a peer school to the University of Minnesota.

Holloway is the only candidate with no prior connections to the University. He currently serves as the provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at the University of New Mexico.

The conversation to invite the three finalists to campus went through five phases: an inter-regent discussion where Board members could state their opinions on each of the candidates, a dot voting phase where each regent votes on which candidates they’d most like to interview, a more in-depth discussion, a consensus phase and the final vote.

For the duration of the discussion, the candidates were left anonymous, and were referred to as “Candidates A (Bloomberg), B (Cunningham), C (Holloway) and D” with gender-neutral pronouns to protect their identities.

In the dot voting phase of the meeting, Bloomberg received nine votes, Cunningham and Hollway both received seven and Candidate D only received one. Candidate D was the only finalist not advanced to the next stage of the process, and remains anonymous.

The PSAC spent three months holding public listening sessions and reviewing applications to narrow down the candidate pool. PSAC Chair Mary Davenport said the four finalists were unanimously selected by the committee.

Letter of intent to Fairview

The Board voted unanimously to approve a resolution on a non-binding letter of intent to buy back their teaching hospital from Fairview over the course of the next three years. The letter gives the University and Fairview until Sept. 30 to finalize the buyback agreement.

The letter was introduced into the Board’s agenda the morning of the meeting, and was met with enthusiasm from many members of the Board.

Medical School Dean Jakub Tolar said the best way for the University to achieve its vision for academic healthcare, they need to have more control over their own healthcare facilities. The letter of intent is a big step forward in giving the University more financial and executive control.

According to Senior Vice President of Finance and Operations Myron Frans, the letter of intent allows the University to regain control of its former teaching hospital over an extended period of time.

“We are now taking those very first critical steps toward a new, reimagined partnership,” Frans said.

Regent Kodi Verhalen expressed concern that the Sept. 30 deadline would require a lot of work between the University and other collaborators mentioned in the letter. Tolar said the work on negotiations would begin the week following the meeting.

Regent Robyn Gulley said she was excited about the possibility of being able to serve more patients across Minnesota. She said the most important thing to her was that there was a sense of continuity for employees as the changes in ownership were made.

Frans said the deal would not change the care given to patients or the status of any current employees as the ownership of the teaching hospital shifted from Fairview’s hands back to the University.

The piece was last updated at 3:51 p.m.

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