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The Minnesota Daily

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Meet the three finalists for UMN presidential search

The finalists will visit each of the five UMN campuses before the president is selected the week of Feb. 26.

The Board of Regents presented four finalists for the position of the 18th President of the University of Minnesota at their Feb. 9 meeting and elected to invite three of them to all five campuses for public interviews.

The finalists were referred to as candidates “A,” “ B,” “C” and “D” for the duration of the meeting. Though the names of candidates “A,” “B” and “C” were revealed later that afternoon, the fourth candidate remains anonymous since they were not invited to campus for public interviews.

Chair of the Presidential Search Advisory Committee (PSAC) Mary Davenport said the committee originally had twelve candidates they wanted to move on to the final round. To lower the candidate pool, PSAC chose the four finalists the committee voted on unanimously.

“[The PSAC] was a really exceptional team coming together with the same goal,” Davenport said. “Nobody was afraid to give or receive feedback on any ideas that were said.”

Who is Laura Bloomberg?

Candidate “A” is Laura Bloomberg, the current president of Cleveland State University (CSU) in Ohio.

“It is a true honor to serve as CSU’s eighth president,” Bloomberg said. “There is only one other position at one other institution that could possibly speak to my heart as much as CSU does, and that is my alma mater, the University of Minnesota.”

Bloomberg spent just under 15 years working for the Humphrey School of Public Affairs (HSPA) at the University and began as a professor in 2007. From 2012 to 2017, she served as the associate dean before being promoted to dean for her four remaining years with HSPA.

As dean, Bloomberg took HSPA global by establishing a national pathway program for underrepresented college students and launching an internationally focused human rights degree. HSPA was ranked as a national top 10 public affairs program when Bloomberg served as dean.

Bloomberg earned her doctorate in educational policy and administration at the University before becoming a faculty member.

During the February meeting, several regents noted Bloomberg’s experience with diversity, equity and inclusion and building partnerships within a community. Regent James Farnsworth said Bloomberg’s background would make her a strong partner in developing a new system plan past MPact 2025, which ends this year.

Who is Rebecca Cunningham?

Candidate “B,” Rebecca Cunningham, is the current vice president for research and innovation at the University of Michigan (U-M).

In her current role, Cunningham led the design and implementation of the first comprehensive review of the U-M research enterprise. This expanded the amount of money U-M received for research to $1.86 billion annually.

Cunningham served as a faculty member at U-M, a peer school to the University of Minnesota, for 25 years. Before stepping into her current role five years ago, she worked in varying education, research and administrative positions, like the director of the CDC-funded U-M Injury Prevention Center.

In an email statement to The Minnesota Daily, Cunningham wrote she was honored to be considered a finalist for the position of the University’s 18th president.

“I have developed a profound admiration for the important role that public universities play in serving our communities,” Cunningham said. “Great public universities, like the University of Minnesota, have a unique responsibility to support and educate students across diverse disciplines so they can build a brighter future for generations to come.”

Cunningham said this is an important time for the University community, and she looks forward to meeting students and faculty across all five campuses.

Who is James Holloway?

Candidate “C,” James Holloway, currently serves as the provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at the University of New Mexico (UNM).

On top of his current role as provost, Holloway works as a professor of nuclear engineering at UNM. Before starting work at UNM, Holloway spent 29 years in various roles at U-M.

Holloway was a professor of nuclear engineering and radiological sciences for the entirety of his time at U-M. He took on additional duties as the vice provost for global engagement in 2013 and remained in both positions until he left.

According to Holloway, he built relationships with state lawmakers by meeting with them personally before asking for any funding. He said building relationships with lawmakers led to more benefits for UNM, like more funding for faculty salaries.

“Universities are people organizations,” Holloway said. “Really when we think about our success as an institution or our ability to serve the state, the support of faculty, staff and students too is critically important.”

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  • Kathryn Carlson
    Feb 20, 2024 at 10:45 am

    What is Rebecca Cunningham’s educational background? Does she have a PhD and in what discipline? Is she also an MD.