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Search for new NDUS chancellor begins Thursday

BISMARCK - The State Board of Higher Education will take initial steps Thursday toward selecting a new chancellor.

The meeting is the first since North Dakota voters rejected Measure 3 on Tuesday, which would have changed the state's governance of higher education.

Interim Chancellor Larry Skogen, who has held the position since the board bought out Chancellor Hamid Shirvani in 2013, will conclude his term on June 30, 2015, and return to his former job as president of Bismarck State College. Skogen is not eligible for the permanent position.

A proposed timeline that the board could approve Thursday would have a new chancellor assuming the office July 1.

The board considered starting the search earlier but decided to wait until after the election to confirm that there would be a chancellor search. If Measure 3 had passed, the chancellor position would have been dissolved.

Although the board decided to wait, Chairwoman Kirsten Diederich said she isn't too concerned about time constraints.

"It may be a little bit tight, but I do think it's doable," she said.

Thursday's meeting is "really just to approve the process," Diederich said.

The agenda includes approving a request for proposal to seek a consultant and appointing a search committee chair.

Terry Meyer, administrative support manager for the North Dakota University System, has estimated the search will cost $120,000, including the consultant's fee. The cost of the search for Shirvani in 2011 was $114,000.

One of the consultant's duties will be to gather information from "listening sessions" with faculty, staff, students, business leaders and community members, Diederich said.

That information can then be turned into a list of qualifications that applicants need to meet, she said.

If a proposed motion is approved Thursday, Diederich will serve on the search committee, along with Skogen, three board members, the board's two advisers, four university presidents including Dean Bresciani of North Dakota State University and Robert Kelley of the University of North Dakota, and up to eight others appointed by the committee chair.

In a typical search, the committee would hire a consultant, review applications and meet with top candidates before identifying finalists who interview with the board.

The board will vote on whether to approve that process Thursday, along with a timeline.

Diederich said a key to the chancellor search is providing plenty of opportunities for input.

"I realize that somebody still has to make the final decision, but I strongly feel that working together we can come up with a better decision than working alone," she said.