Herald editorial board

So UND President Mark Kennedy didn't get the job as president of the University of Central Florida. Although Kennedy was among the finalists, the position instead went to an insider, UCF Provost Dale Whittaker.

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After being in Grand Forks 18 months, Kennedy - only the 12th president in UND history - already was seeking another position, a development that has disappointed some at the university and in the community. After all, the search to bring Kennedy here in the first place cost more than $100,000.

What does this all mean in Grand Forks and at UND?

First, the good: Kennedy's status as a finalist shows outsiders feel UND has a good leader. To be fair to Kennedy, many in Grand Forks feel the same; his time at UND has been a whirlwind of activity, ranging from a few immensely unpopular budget cuts to implementing a tricky strategic plan that currently is moving forward.

Kennedy said he didn't seek out the UCF job, but was headhunted for the position - another sign his short stint at UND has been viewed as professionally successful.

The UCF job would have come with more status. UCF is a 66,000-student university; UND's enrollment is 14,000.

The Central Florida job also would have come with a considerable pay raise. Whittaker is starting off with a base salary of $506,000, not including other lucrative perks and bonuses. Outgoing UCF President John Hitt earned more than $1 million last year.

At UND, Kennedy earns a base salary of $365,000.

We understand the disappointment that materialized when Kennedy applied for the job, but all things considered - status, pay and the fact he was headhunted, which is quite flattering to the person being targeted - it's hard to blame him. Kennedy called it a "rare opportunity." Would others pass it up? Seriously?

Kennedy considers the whole process a compliment to UND. We agree.

Now, the bad: Kennedy was wooed, and that is offensive to some. It will take time for Kennedy to salve the wounds of those who are miffed by his early entry back into the job market.

Eric Murphy, a UND associate professor, told the Herald last week that Kennedy has compromised his ability to lead the campus. Murphy said Kennedy's job-seeking will "lend to a less stable environment."

We agree that it could, and the president may have to work to gain back confidence.

As the UND student newspaper - The Dakota Student - recently wrote, Kennedy returns "to an already shaky fan base, who may wonder when the next time he pursues a new opportunity will be."

Opportunities no doubt will arise. Kennedy's status as a UCF finalist portrays him as a talented business professional and university president who listens to offers. Headhunters, who work on commission, likely will come calling.

Will Mark Kennedy be at UND in five or 10 years? Perhaps, but many people wouldn't bet on it.

Until he leaves or retires, though, he is UND's president. For the sake of the university, it's best we all accept that.