Six up, six down.

After two weeks' worth of visits, all UND presidential candidates have been through interviews on campus. Andrew Armacost, former dean of the faculty at the U.S. Air Force Academy (equivalent to a provost position in the higher education realm), rounded out the visits Thursday with students, staff and community meetings.

Armacost said his leadership motto is: “love your people.” Armacost said that means respecting and caring for people no matter their background.

While at the Academy, Armacost said he was highly active in the campus’ affinity groups, including talking with students of color and those who are in the LGBT community.

The campus started having critical conversations with cadets to discuss topics like the unrest in Ferguson, Mo., the protests in Charlottesville, Va., and even the Colin Kaepernick “taking a knee” protests. The conversations were meant to bring about discussions on campus and then determine how those topics apply to them and ways everyone can make the campus better.

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During his time at the Air Force Academy, Armacost helped begin the first faculty senate on campus, helping to give faculty a direct and organized voice on campus issues.

Armacost said he also wants to be part of the UND campus community.

“My vision is a fairly simple formula: Be present and don’t lock myself in the office,” he said.

One community member asked Armacost about times when he’s had to make tough decisions that may have upset some people. Armacost pointed to a decision to cut a general education course from a department that had relied on the course for enrollment. The decision to cut the course caused sagging faculty morale, Armacost said.

While Armacost likes all of the points in UND’s strategic plan, he said he would consider adding an eighth goal: building a sense of community.

Throughout the forums, Armacost was asked about his experience with donors and outside support of the university. Armacost said while it may seem that the Air Force Academy gets all of its funding from the federal government, that is not the case.

The Air Force Academy also relies on outside donors to make some projects happen. The Academy has an endowment for such ventures. Armacost said federal ethics rules prevented him from asking for money from individuals, but he could form relationships with prospective donors. He could also outline the cases of how the Academy would use donor funding if it came to the institution. Armacost said having those relationships is important.

Next steps?

Friday, Nov. 22, the UND search committee will meet to discuss the six candidates; the panel is then expected to narrow the field to three. The State Board of Higher Education will meet on Dec. 3 and interview the finalists. The board is expected to name a president that day. The meeting will be held at UND.

The six semifinalist are: Armacost, Robert Marley, Laurie Stenberg Nichols, David Rosowsky, Chuck Staben and Paul Tikalsky.

The new president is expected to start July 1. The next UND president will replace Mark Kennedy, who left UND earlier this year to become president of the University of Colorado system. Joshua Wynne has been serving as interim president since mid-June.