Members of the Grand Forks community said they would like to see the next UND president to be someone who is a “servant leader” with humility and will help boost morale throughout the campus community.
It was the third listening session held on the topic this week. Former business school dean Denny Elbert and State Board of Higher Education member Casey Ryan, co-chairs of the presidential search committee, said during the previous presidential search, the listening sessions were held much later in the process and the sessions were held by an outside entity.
Ryan acknowledged that morale is low on campus and throughout the Grand Forks community about UND. He said he hopes that the next president will be able to change that.
“We need an outstanding university, that’s what the community wants,” Ryan said.
Throughout the community forum on Thursday evening, business leaders and state representatives noted they would like to see someone who will seek community collaboration and relationships with the state Legislature. Others noted that the university needs someone who is student-centered and approachable and who has a knowledge of the academic world, while also having an understanding of the business world. Community members also would like to see someone who is not a political person and understands North Dakota culture.
Some in the community group, and those in the second faculty discussion held Wednesday, maintained that the committee should require that a new UND president have a doctorate. However, they acknowledged such a requirement would potentially limit other qualified candidates from applying.
Grand Forks Sen. Curt Kruen said there has been a knowledge gap about what UND’s true role in the state is, noting some refer to it as the “college in Grand Forks.” He noted that UND is much more than just a college in the state, but North Dakota’s flagship university.
Paul Todhunter, UND Senate president and one of the faculty representatives on the recruiting committee, said it’s important that the university has a strong relationship with its fine arts programs. While UND has strong technical programs, it’s important for the next president to remember that fine arts are a key component of the university’s success.
The search committee will hold its first official meeting later this month. Ryan has previously stated that a new president will likely be selected by the December meeting, which will be held at the UND campus.
The new president will succeed Mark Kennedy, who left the school in June to become president of the University of Colorado System. 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.
More listening sessions will be planned during the fall when students return for the semester.