UND's longtime spokesman Peter Johnson, once set to retire at the start of this year, will be around a while longer yet.
That's because the second round of searching for a new UND communications chief has closed out without a hire less than a month after three finalists for the job were brought to campus for interviews and public forum events. UND President Mark Kennedy announced the development Wednesday in his biannual University Council address, chalking up the outcome to a lack of fit between campus and candidate.
Kennedy said the university would begin a third candidate search when "there's a little more certainty" in the state budget outlook, which could come in December from the governor's office.
Johnson, who announced his retirement late last winter and has been working part time since last summer, will now stay on in a half-time capacity through the next legislative session.
That will start in early 2019 and could run up to next May.
"We're looking for somebody with the broad swaths of skills for marketing and communications," Kennedy said of the latest search for a new communications head. "We're looking for the perfect person and they're looking for the perfect place."
He commended the work of the UND search committee tasked with recruiting candidates for the executive position, which has an official title of vice president of university relations, but "we've not yet gotten that match" to make a hire.
Johnson is currently filling that vice presidency on an interim basis in addition to his other, previous title of university spokesman. He's held the higher office for about two years, since the departure of former leader Susan Walton. Johnson ended his full-time commitment to UND last summer and has been working part time since then in anticipation of the next vice president coming on board.
The university hosted in September its first set of finalists for the position but announced by mid-October that it would restart the search. The latest group of finalists were the result of that second unsuccessful hunt.
Kennedy got a laugh from his audience Wednesday when introducing Johnson as the "longest-running retirement in UND history."
While the future of the communications post seems less certain, Kennedy hinted that the university had moved to hire for a number of other high-level leadership posts on campus.
He'd declined comment earlier in the week when asked about the university relations role, adding that he also had nothing definitive to say about making a hire for the next dean of the UND College of Business and Public Administration or the future director of the entrepreneurial Center for Innovation. However, Kennedy told the University Council he'd be issuing a campus release today about the "new recruits that we have" to lead those business areas.