Although the job isn't yet open, former U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp told a Fargo radio station she would consider taking on the UND president's position if it becomes available.
"It's not something that, number one, is available right now, but, you know, I would never say never to any kind of opportunity," Heitkamp told KFGO Thursday. "I love UND. Why would you automatically discount an opportunity if it would present itself?"
Current UND President Mark Kennedy is the sole finalist for the president's position at the University of Colorado. That position would oversee a four-campus system in Colorado, including campuses in Aurora, Denver, Boulder and Colorado Springs. Kennedy has been touring each location this week as a decision from the CU Board of Regents looms. CU spokesman Ken McConnellogue said the regents could vote on the matter as soon as early May.
Either way, Kennedy may be out of the UND job, since North Dakota University System Chancellor Mark Hagerott wrote Kennedy a letter and said he accepts Kennedy's "de facto resignation."
Last week, Forum Communications Co. columnist Mike McFeely suggested Heitkamp as a potential replacement if Kennedy leaves. In turn, that suggestion was seconded by Forum columnist and blogger Rob Port, who has been critical of Heitkamp's politics but who wrote that "Heitkamp's politics shouldn't matter. ... She could be a very effective leader for the University of North Dakota, if she'd be willing to take the job."
During an interview Thursday with KFGO, Heitkamp referenced Kennedy and his multiple job explorations since arriving at UND in 2016. Last year, Kennedy was a finalist for the president's position at Central Florida. He was ultimately not selected for the spot.
"I think that UND needs committed leadership. So the question is, if he doesn't get this job, how committed is he really to the University of North Dakota?" Heitkamp told KFGO.
Heitkamp graduated from UND in 1977 and is set to receive an honorary degree from the university sometime in the future. UND has not yet set a date for when Heitkamp would receive that honor.
Heitkamp, a Democrat, sought reelection to the Senate last year, but was defeated by Republican Kevin Cramer.
At present, she is a CNBC contributor and was named one of four visiting fellows by the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School. She and former National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn have co-hosted a weekly discussion on the state of the economy called "The Real State of the Union."