The Most Important Elections

The Most Important Elections

They're not those for governor and state legislators.

To: Regent Patricia Simmons
Chair, University of Minnesota Search Advisory Committee

David Olson
Chair, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) Chancellor
Search Advisory Committee


Dear Chair Simmons and Chair Olson:

As a state, we are going through a hard-fought election process for governor. Your searches, however, represent the more important selection processes for the future of this state—finding the next University of Minnesota president and the next MnSCU chancellor. (Both systems have opened up their selection processes through their Web sites: and mnscu .edu/about/chancellor_search/).

The U of M system is one of the state’s biggest employers and has more than 67,000 enrolled students. With an operating budget in excess of $2.8 billion and an endowment nearly that, the U routinely ranks in the top 10 public research universities in the United States. The MnSCU system is the largest single provider of higher education in Minnesota, educating more than 62 percent of the state’s undergraduates.

Here, then, is some advice regarding your crucial search efforts.

Search committee criticism. First, don’t be concerned about the inevitable criticism that your advisory committees are not inclusive, or that they favor academics (U of M) or politics (MnSCU). Both announced search committees are broad and deep enough to do the job.

Inside or outside? There are the inevitable debates about whether the next U of M president and the next MnSCU chancellor should come from inside or outside the respective institutions. At the University of Minnesota, Mark Yudof was a great success who came from the outside. Robert Bruininks was an even greater success who came from the inside.

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