UND is launching its search for the next provost.

The university will be hosting multiple virtual listening sessions next week to start the search for the leadership position. Debbie Storrs, who previously served as senior vice provost, is serving as interim provost.

Debbie Storrs, pictured in this Herald file photo, senior vice provost at UND, will become the leader of the university's academic affairs beginning June 1. John Stennes / Grand Forks Herald
Debbie Storrs, pictured in this Herald file photo, senior vice provost at UND, will become the leader of the university's academic affairs beginning June 1. John Stennes / Grand Forks Herald

In a letter to the campus community, UND President Andrew Armacost said the university has been focused on its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but also that it's important to "look strategically to UND’s future.”

“One of the most important decisions I will make this year is who we hire as our next provost and vice president for academic affairs,” he wrote. “Yet, I do not view this as simply my decision, but our decision. Consequently, our search process must involve the full campus, and our success will be the result of your contributions and the efforts of our search committee.”

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Armacost has selected Beth Bjerke, with the John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences, and David Flynn, with the Nistler College of Business and Public Administration, to serve as co-chairs of the search committee. Jen Rogers, from UND’s finance and operations division, will be part of the committee from administration.

Other search committee members will include nominees from UND’s senates, deans and vice presidents. The remaining members will be announced next week.

The position was previously held by the late Tom DiLorenzo, who was provost at UND from 2013 until the beginning of June, when he retired. Six weeks after retiring from the university, DiLorenzo was shot and killed when two suspects attempted to rob him and his wife in Charleston, S.C.

Former UND Provost Thomas DiLorenzo is pictured in this file photo. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
Former UND Provost Thomas DiLorenzo is pictured in this file photo. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

The university will hold a set of campus listening sessions next week “to gain a broad perspective about what the members of our community wish to see in their next provost.”

The upcoming schedule of events, all via Zoom, includes:

  • Tuesday, Sept. 15

Faculty, 8 a.m. - 9 a.m.

Students, 9:30 a.m. -10:30 a.m.

Faculty, 11 a.m. - 12 p.m.

  • Wednesday, Sept. 16

Staff, 8 a.m. - 8:50 a.m.

Students, 9:05 a.m. - 9:55 a.m.

Faculty, 10:10 a.m. - 11 a.m.

Open, 11:15 a.m. - 12:05 p.m.

Open, 12:20 p.m. - 1:10 p.m.

Staff, 1:25 p.m. - 2:15 p.m.

Faculty, 2:30 p.m. - 3:20 p.m.

  • Thursday, Sept. 17

Students, 12 p.m. - 1 p.m.

Open, 2 p.m. - 3 p.m.

Links to next week’s Zoom rooms will be distributed early next week. Members of the public can attend the sessions marked as “open.”

AGB Search firm

The university also is contracting with search firm AGB Search. The Washington, D.C.-based firm assisted the North Dakota University System with its search to name Armacost as UND’s president. Janice Fitzgerald and Jim McCormick will assist the committee.

Armacost said the search firm will lead a large part of the search, in order to not further tax faculty members who are busy dealing with classes and COVID-19 protocols.

AGB will lead campus listening sessions and will work with the search committee to create candidate lists and to conduct background checks.

“I felt that using AGB Search the search firm in its full capacity would allow the co-chairs to be more effective, and to conduct the search more thoroughly,” Armacost said. “There's a lot going on on campus in the wake of COVID, and this just provides additional headroom for our co-chairs to operate.”

Much of the work will be done remotely due to COVID-19 precautions.

UND signed a contract with AGB Search in July. In total, the search is estimated to cost around $80,510.

The search to name Armacost as president cost $78,296, but the firm had a much reduced role last year, only taking care of a few aspects of the search. That was cheaper than other recent system searches, and nearly half the price of the search that named former UND President Mark Kennedy to the president’s position in 2016.

The Kennedy search cost the university $139,907. Kennedy ultimately left UND in 2019 and now oversees the University of Colorado system.