In a little more than a week, UND should know who its next leader is.
The finalists, who each spent two days on campus speaking with students, staff, faculty and community members, were announced Friday.
Andrew Armacost, former leader at the U.S. Air Force Academy; Laurie Stenberg Nichols, interim president at Black Hills State University and former president of the University of Wyoming; and David Rosowsky, professor and former provost at the University of Vermont, will meet with the State Board of Higher Education on Dec. 3. The Board will interview each candidate and likely will select a president that day.
The Herald had a chance to meet with each candidate during their campus visits and asked them an array of questions. The Herald has chosen three questions to highlight for the three finalists.
Why do you want to be president of UND?
Armacost: “This university, the University of North Dakota, is an amazing place. I've been fortunate over my entire Air Force career through the people that have come into contact with either graduates of UND or residents of the state, or Air Force officers who have been stationed here. And the constant theme that I hear is how wonderful North Dakota is, how wonderful Grand Forks is and how amazing the University of North Dakota is and to be part of that. When you think of what the university represents it represents community. It represents this collaborative and welcoming spirit. These are exactly the characteristics that I think I can bring and reinforce and lead the university through.
"It's a rare opportunity to find a position like this, a leadership role like this, that aligns perfectly with with who I am as a human being.”
Nichols: “UND has such a great reputation in the state and in the region and, quite honestly, even in the country, so it's a public flagship university for North Dakota, which is very attractive to me. I've spent my whole life in higher education at public flagship and land-grant universities. And so it's really where I've had really almost all of my experience.
"So, to be able to continue with the institution that has a similar mission, a statewide outreach, you know, provides access to a higher education for the citizens of North Dakota, is something that's very appealing to me.
"(UND) has a great reputation. I mean, people outside of the state think highly of UND and that's attractive as well.”
Rosowsky: “I’m really interested in this university because of where it is and where I think it's going. UND is one of the great public flagship universities. It is poised by virtue of the disciplines that it represents and also the collective will that seems to exist at this campus to address some of the challenges that are facing higher education and to do some really innovative things at the university to propel it for a bright future.”
What is something unique that you would bring to campus?
Armacost, speaking about his experience being a leader at the U.S. Air Force Academy: “Embedded within that unique experience are attributes and experiences that really translate across institutions and the idea of leading is about developing relationships, and developing a vision and trying to implement that vision in an important way. I think that the uniqueness of the Air Force Academy relative to the other candidates is that I wore military uniform and Air Force uniform proudly for 30 years. But I think what translates is the sense of purpose, the sense of commitment to key core values and this idea of building relationships and really leading an organization through establishing a vision and then and then moving toward that vision.”
Nichols: “Probably my experience base at public land-grant and flagship universities may be a little unique. I haven’t studied all of the other finalists in depth, so I’m not sure if that’s true, but I certainly have that. I've done my education at three public flagship or land grants, and that has been South Dakota State, Colorado State and Ohio State. Then I worked in South Dakota, Idaho, Wyoming, a little bit in Iowa and a little bit in Nebraska. So I've really had a nice cross section of experience in the upper Midwest and in this region.
"I've spent much of my life in South Dakota. I know the Dakotas really well. I understand sort of the economy of this part of the country. I understand the people, the weather just those things that are very unique to this part of the country. I don't want to in any way claim that I have experience in North Dakota because I do not. But I do have a lot of experience in South Dakota. And I think there's a lot of commonalities between the two.
"I do have a very strong background in education. I was a K-12 teacher in my past, and I've came up through the faculty ranks in higher ed and spent a lot of time teaching in colleges. And so I really feel like I can really bring a very strong base of being in higher education and understanding it.
"I sort of worked my way from the ground up. I really did start as an instructor prior to getting my Ph.D., which is at the beginning ranks of a faculty member. I worked my way up through tenure and promotion to assistant, associate, full professor, department head, dean, provost, and have kind of done every job every step of the way.
"I do think that prepares you in a different way for this job than maybe somebody who has come at it from a different experience base.”
Rosowsky: “I'm a very communicative, visible, high-energy person. I'm very, very well known on our campus and my family is very well known on our campus. We're visible at all of the events, whether it's arts events, athletic events, or student teams, organizations, presentations, obviously, anything related to homecoming and so forth. So, we’re a part of the community. We're part of the campus, and we are omnipresent, visible and very high energy. And I think that that would be something welcomed at the University of North Dakota.”
What has prepared you for this position?
Armacost: “The bulk of my 30-year Air Force career was at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. And I serve both as a faculty member and leader of a major program, this was the management program at the Air Force Academy. And then finally (I served) as the chief academic officer, what we call the dean of the faculty at the Academy.
"Through those experiences, I developed an appreciation for academic freedom, for delivering high quality academic programs, for what it means to be an educational leader, but not just to create students who learn academic material.
"It's about students who combine that academic work with character and leadership development programs, with athletic programs, with flying programs, and that whole piece coming together really focuses on how do you develop these students to be great citizens and great human beings.
"I see the exact same need and the exact same ambitions at the University of North Dakota.”
Nichols: “With the exception of teaching K-12 for about four years, I’ve spent my entire career in higher education. So, I spanned, gosh, six or seven different institutions, most of them being public flagship or land-grant universities in both my education preparation as well as my work experience.
"I have worked in several other institutions in a couple of other states. So I think I can bring kind of a breadth of experience to this position where I've seen how things work in other institutions in other states. And some of that will be really relevant and, quite honestly, some of it probably won't be because North Dakota may do things differently or work in a different way. But I think it's that mixture of coming and learning and also bringing what I've done in the past that I think can be a very powerful combination.”
Rosowsky: “I've been a faculty member for 29 years. About half of those in leadership, progressive leadership from department head to provost. About 25 of those 29 years has been in public research universities. So I'm very familiar with these institutions. I care deeply about them. I've dedicated my career to their success, to their evolution, to their visibility and their impact. I think the progressive leadership through department chairs, to dean, to provost, to senior vice president, at a few different types of universities, largely public research universities has prepared me for whatever comes next.”