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7 move on to second round interviews in UND president search

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. -- After two days of interviews, seven of 16 applicants to be UND's new president will be invited for on-campus visits over the next month.

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BLOOMINGTON, Minn. -- After two days of interviews, seven of 16 applicants to be UND’s new president will be invited for on-campus visits over the next month.

The presidential search committee selected the following candidates for on-campus interviews scheduled between Feb. 11 and March 3:

  • Daniel L. Clay, dean of the College of Education at the University of Missouri

  • Mark R. Kennedy, director of the Graduate School of Political Management at George Washington University and former Minnesota congressman

  • Nagi G. Naganathan, dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Toledo

  • Jay Noren, associate dean of the College of Medicine at the University of Illinois-Chicago

  • Morgan R. Olsen, executive vice president, treasurer and CFO at Arizona State University

  • Mark Rudin, vice president for research and economic development at Boise State University

  • Steven Shirley, president of Minot State University

  Read more:  Rejected UND presidential applicant considering options

Each candidate will visit campus for two days and meet with a variety of university and community stakeholders, tour the campus, attend a meet-and-greet event, and visit with people of their choice, among other things. The committee will then collect feedback from each applicant’s visit and meet again March 7 for a final vote. At that time, the search committee will forward at least three finalists to the State Board of Higher Education, which will meet March 15 to discuss the remaining applicants.

While winnowing the list of candidates, the committee focused on a variety of qualities but paid particular attention to finding applicants who were knowledgeable about UND, people who could sell the university to constituents and candidates they felt really wanted to be at the university.


The seven candidates come from a variety of backgrounds, including a sitting president, a one-time interim president, a former president, a CFO, a dean, a vice president, and a former congressman and businessman.

“This is an A-plus pool and I’m excited for UND,” committee member Jim Poolman said after the deliberations.

Most of the candidates remaining have ties to UND or the area. Clay is a former UND faculty member, Olsen and Shirley are UND alumni, Noren interviewed for the UND president job previously, and Kennedy is from Minnesota and his wife was raised in the Red River Valley.

Tuesday interviews Among the seven candidates who met with the search committee Tuesday in the Twin Cities, only two were selected for on-campus interviews -- Naganathan and Shirley.

Tuesday’s questions and focus were nearly identical to the previous day, and focused on UND’s budget shortfall, how to take the university to the next level and issues dealing with students, faculty and research.

Naganathan, who served as interim president at the University of Toledo for a year, touted his leadership qualities during his meeting with the committee.

“One of my personal philosophies is for an institution to be successful, everybody has to feel at the end they had something to do with it,” Naganathan said. “You don’t want to tell them we’re successful and expect them to be happy. They should be able to touch and feel that success.”

Shirley, a UND alumnus, pointed to his connections within the university and the passion he feels for the school as reasons for his presidency.


He touted his touted his fondness for the state as well.

“I have a great passion for North Dakota. I have a great passion for higher education in the state of North Dakota,” Shirley said. ‘I’m very proud of higher education in North Dakota -- I think we have a lot to offer.”

More coverage of the UND president search

Graphic by Carli Greninger/Grand Forks Herald

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