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Passion for liberal arts and sustainability important for next University chancellor, Kaler says

University of Minnesota, Morris Chancellor Jacquie Johnson talks with University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler at a reception on Monday, Nov. 2 at the LaFave House in Morris.

MORRIS – In a visit to the University of Minnesota, Morris earlier this week, University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler said he felt confident the university will find a qualified candidate to take over for Chancellor Jacquie Johnson when she retires in July.  

“It’s an incredibly attractive job in American higher education,” Kaler said. “It’s not very Minnesotan to brag, but I would say (UMM is) one of the premier public liberal arts education institutions in the country. I think it will be a sought-after position.”

Johnson announced in August that she planned to retire at the end of the current academic year after 10 years of leading the institution.  

Kaler said he is looking for a candidate that is passionate about the liberal arts and recognizes the importance of sustainability, two important attributes of the campus.

“You hesitate to use the world essential, but these really are going to be important to have,” Kaler said. “(Jacquie) will leave big shoes to fill but I’m confident we will find a very capable leader. I’m optimistic that we’ll land an absolutely terrific candidate and continue the trajectory of the Morris campus.”

The chancellor committee will be chaired by Professor Peh Ng, chair of the Division of Science and Mathematics at UMM. Other faculty on the search committee include Professor Ray Schultz, Associate Professor Jennifer Deane, and Assistant Professor Ken Emo.

Other UMM committee members include student Sam Gill, Office Manager Jane Kill, Assistant to the Chancellor for Equity and Diversity Hilda Ladner, and Chief Development Officer Susan Schmidgall.

They’ll be joined by Bernard Gulachek, University of Minnesota interim vice president and chief information officer, and Jason Lina, a Morris attorney and UMM alumnus.

Kaler said gathering community input from both on and off campus is important in a chancellor search process. While academic and administrative experience is important, “at the end of the day it’s got to be a great fit, something that feels right in an almost unquantifiable way,” Kaler said. “Getting the community both inside and outside the campus to be involved is important.”

The university has hired consultant Ann Yates of Witt/Kieffer to help develop a pool of qualified candidates for the search. Yates recently served as the consultant for the search for the UMM Vice Chancellor of Academics Affairs and Dean.

Members of the search committee met with UMM students, faculty, staff and administrators this week to come up with a list of attributes they are looking for in a new chancellor. They’ll use that information to review candidates, with finalists visiting Morris in March or April.