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Deputy Higher Education Commissioner Has UM Presidential Search Update

photo by Peter Christian
AGB Search Committee

The Montana Board of Regents and the University of Montana has created a website to stay up-to-date on the search for a new president at the University of Montana.

Deputy Commissioner Kevin McRae said Commissioner of Higher Education Clayton Christian released a statement on Monday to inform the public about the new resource.

“He primarily wanted to bring to the attention of the university community the easiest way to get information about the search,” McRae said. “Just go online and search for University of Montana – President search, and it will take you right to the website. It has information as to who is on the search committee. Our search advisory committee is made up primarily of University of Montana faculty and staff, with seven faculty members and four students, some non-administrative staff members as well as some administration members and Board of Regents representatives.”

McRae said the search committee will be helping to initiate the job advertisement that will go out nationwide to attract the best qualified candidates.

“They’ll also be helping to review job applications, but ultimately, they’ll be responsible for bringing to Missoula the most qualified finalists,” he said. “That will take place early in the upcoming fall semester for campus interviews. The website will also have scheduling times for the candidate interviews. There will be open forums where people will have the opportunity to ask questions of the finalists. You can also submit comments on the website at any time.”

McRae said Commissioner Christian wants people at the university and in Missoula to know that they will have a major part in the selection of the new president, despite existing state and Board of Regents policy.

“Even though state law and Board of Regents policy state that the presidents of the university shall be directly appointed by the board, for this hire, the Board of Regents  is focused on a university-centric process, where not only University of Montana stakeholders, but the Missoula community itself will have an active role,” McRae continued. “The best place to start with that active role is getting access to that decision through the search website. Then, in the fall semester, we can all get together to meet and vet the finalists  and provide feedback on them.”

The search got underway after former President Royce Engstrom was asked to step down in late December, after several consecutive years of reduced enrollment, which has led to faculty and staff cuts. Former Commissioner of Higher Education Sheila Stearns has been appointed interim President by the Board of Regents.

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