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Members of the presidential search committee meet for the first time at the Center for Innovation on the University of North Dakota campus Wednesday. July 24, 2019. Eric Hylden / Forum News Service

UND presidential search committee meets for first time

GRAND FORKS — The University of North Dakota's presidential search committee met for the first time Wednesday, July 24, and selected a recruiting firm to help in the search process.

Committee members discussed a number of topics during the two-hour meeting Wednesday, including the pace of the search and what type of connections potential candidates should have to UND and North Dakota.

The new president will succeed Mark Kennedy, who left the school in June to become president of the University of Colorado system. The committee will be co-chaired by Denny Elbert, retired UND business school dean, and State Board of Higher Education member Casey Ryan.

Joshua Wynne, UND vice president for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, has been serving as interim president since June 16.

“I thought (the first meeting) went really well,” Elbert said. “There was great participation, a lot of discussion and lots of questions and suggestions. I was very pleased with it.”

“I think we have a very good, interactive group and I look forward to looking with them,” Ryan added.

The committee spent a significant amount of time discussing the language of the job posting that likely will go out in the coming weeks. Those discussions included whether to encourage the candidate to have a connection to UND and North Dakota. The committee ultimately opted to leave that portion out of the job requirements and instead required candidates who show passion for UND, the state and higher education.

The committee selected search firm AGB, of Washington, D.C., to help with the recruitment of the new president.

AGB was one of four companies to place a bid to be part of the search process. AGB’s approximately $47,000 bid was the lowest available to the committee. AGB has also assisted in previous searches, including the one that named Kennedy as UND president. The firm also helped in the presidential search that named Brian Van Horn president at Mayville State.

Including travel expenses, the firm will cost the system approximately $57,000. In 2015, the university system paid AGB approximately $140,000 to carry out the presidential search for Kennedy.

AGB will have a smaller scope of work this time around, as the committee will carry some of the workload itself, including conducting listening sessions with campus community members.

AGB offers experience and the opportunity to find candidates that the committee may not otherwise have access to, Ryan said. The firm also understands what type of person the committee is trying to find for UND. Elbert said AGB will be able to help in the early vetting process for candidates.

“They also help us with the process of keeping things private until it’s appropriate to go public,” Ryan said.

The committee is required by law to forward at least three names to the State Board of Higher Education. Those candidates’ names then will become public and the individuals will be interviewed by the board for a final decision.

The committee will likely meet again in August via conference call to continue to discuss the search.

Sydney Mook

Sydney Mook has been covering higher education at the Grand Forks Herald since May 2018. She previously served as the multimedia editor and cops, courts and health reporter at the Dickinson Press from January 2016 to May 2018.  She graduated from the University of South Dakota with a bachelor's degree in journalism and political science in three and half years in December 2015. While at the USD, she worked for the campus newspaper, The Volante, as well as the television news show, Coyote News. She also interned at South Dakota Public Broadcasting and spent the summer before her senior year interning in Fort Knox for the ROTC Cadet Summer Training program. In her spare time, Sydney enjoys cheering on the New York Yankees and the Kentucky Wildcats, as well as playing golf. If you've got an idea for a video be sure to give her a call!

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