The North Dakota University System has announced the members of the UND presidential search committee.

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 Dennis Elbert, retired UND business school dean, and SBHE member Casey Ryan.

Other committee members are:

  • Steve Burian, UND alum from Grand Forks and former CEO of AE2S;

  • Howard Dahl, a UND alum who currently lives in Fargo and sits on the Board of Trustees of the Trinity Forum;

  • Joshua DeMorrett, UND alum who oversees stakeholder relations at ConocoPhillips in Dickinson;

  • Gracie Lian, UND student body president;

  • Cynthia Lindquist, president of Cankdeska Cikana Community College in Fort Totten;

  • Whitney Maine, UND Staff Senate president;

  • Daphne Pedersen, UND faculty member;

  • Paul Todhunter, UND University Senate president; and

  • DeAnna Carlson Zink, head of the UND Alumni Foundation.

North Dakota University System Chancellor Mark Hagerott and Mayville State President Brian Van Horn will serve as ex-officio members.

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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.

Ryan said during a board meeting Thursday that a new president will not be in place by September, but he hopes one will be appointed shortly after that. He also believes the job description for the president’s position should be prepared by the committee’s first meeting in July.

The job description will include a line stating that preference will be given to those with a connection to UND or North Dakota, Ryan said. The preference is not meant to exclude people who do not have a relationship with the state, however.

“We think in four to five meetings we’ll be able to get this down and come up with some recommendations,” Ryan said, noting the committee will come back with at least three candidates for the board. If asked, the committee would add a fourth name.

Also being discussed is the next president's contract. Board member Dan Traynor, who is poised to take over as chair of the SBHE Governance Committee in July, said he has asked the board’s legal counsel to come up with a more robust and complete presidential contract going forward. The contract could include extension of tenure and may contain new provisions to encourage the next president to stay on the job.

Kennedy's contract was printed on a single page and only referred to his salary and existing SBHE policies and procedures. Meanwhile, contracts of other North Dakota university employees -- such as head coaches -- are up to 10 pages long.

Kennedy's contract with the University of Colorado is 15 pages long and lists various provisions, including scenarios related to breaking the contract.

The next UND president is anticipated to begin duties on or before July 1, 2020.

UND has also launched a presidential search site,

The search committee is smaller than those appointed for previous searches. In May, the board voted to limit the number of committee members to 11. The search committee will also be allowed to engage a recruiting firm, which was not discussed during Thursday’s meeting. Limiting the number of committee members is a deviation from board procedure, board member Nick Hacker said last month, but is meant to streamline the process.

“I think it will help chart a course forward for us to have an efficient search and one that would be in the best interest of the University of North Dakota for the long-term,” Hacker said.

Other board news

In other board news, UND received approval to raze five campus-owned buildings, including four former campus housing units located throughout the university corridor and the now-empty Dakota Hall. UND was given approval to sell two apartment buildings.

The State Board also approved two policies related to campus free speech on Thursday.

The first policy, which relates to student free speech and expression, states that the SBHE recognizes that students have a “fundamental right” to free speech and expression under the First Amendment.

The policy also states that institutions cannot prohibit or disinvite guest speakers based upon the anticipated content or viewpoint of the speech.

Under the new policy, institutions are also not allowed to impose security fees on students, faculty and student organizations based on the viewpoint of the speaker. However, schools can, at their discretion, impose security and logistic fees based on venue, anticipated attendance, anticipated protest activity, and other non-content-based factors. Those fees may not exceed the actual costs incurred by the school.

The board also passed a similar policy regarding academic freedom. The policy allows faculty to design and teach their assigned courses as they see fit. However, the policy notes that “teachers are entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing their subject, but they should be careful not to introduce into their teaching controversial matter which has no relation to their subject.

Both policies, which passed unanimously, stem from a law passed by the North Dakota Legislature, requiring the board to adopt policies regarding free speech and freedom of expression by Aug. 27.