We applaud the University of Minnesota's presidential search committee for conducting listening sessions at each of the university campuses as a way to gather input for the search process.
The next president of the U of M will be setting goals and a tone for the entire system including the University of Minnesota Morris campus. It's important for those tasked with selecting candidates for the next president to understand what campuses such as UMM want in the next president.
Search committee chairman and U of M regent Abdul Omari told the Stevens County Times after the committee's Sept. 18 listening session in Morris that he wants the search process to be as transparent as possible. To Omari's knowledge, this is the first time any search committee has conducted listening sessions at the system campuses.
Unfortunately, only a few members of the community attended the Sept. 18 listening session in Morris. We heard from UMM officials that a good number of staff and students attended a morning session, which is great.
But, it's disappointing the general Morris community missed a chance to share its thoughts.
The low turnout could be because the time and date for the session was released roughly a week before the event which made it difficult to adjust schedules or make plans to attend. Or because 2 p.m. on Tuesday is not the best time to reach the general public. The low turnout may also be because key leaders in the community didn't encourage others to attend or make time to attend themselves.
Although the public turnout was sparse on Sept. 18, the session was still a success in that is was an acknowledgement that all five U of M campuses are in this together. It was an acknowledgement that although each campus has its individual leader the main president leads all.
Although Morris missed a chance to provide valuable input in person, community members can still give input through the website of president-search.umn.edu.