Audio: Ed Schafer Says He's Definitely Not Interested In Permanent Job At UND

In an interview done after his announcement as the new interim president at the University of North Dakota, former Governor Ed Schafer said he’s not interested in the job permanently.

“I am not a candidate,” he told Steve Hallstrom, host of the Need To Know Morning Show on AM1100 WZFG in Fargo, of the possibility that he’d take the job long term.

That’s too bad, I think. Schafer could do a lot for UND, as he also mentions during the interview. If Schafer’s not interested in a long-term gig, then UND should consider making his interim posting as long as possible. One of the real values in putting someone like Schafer in as the interim president is that it means the selection committee for the new president can take their time and get the right candidate.

That’s a luxury the State Board of Higher Education should avail themselves of. Given the level of rancor that exists between the university system and the legislature (and the public, for that matter), another bad president hire isn’t something they can afford.

Mentioning UND’s budget shortfall, low morale, and an acrimonious relationship between the administration and students/faculty/staff, Schafer said “these are all things I’ve dealt with.”

Which is true. When Schafer became governor in the 1990’s North Dakota had an ugly budget situation, and public employees were very distrustful wondering where the axe for spending cuts was going to fall. Schafer gets, and deserves, a lot of credit (along with strong leadership in the Legislature) for turning that situation around.

Hallstrom also asked Schafer about the nickname situation. Schafer said he did vote for a nickname as an alumnus, but wouldn’t say which one. He also said that whichever nickname is ultimately picked – the matter will be resolved before he officially takes over in January – he has experience in adding value to brands.

Schafer’s father Harold Schafer founded the Gold Seal Company which, among other products, developed and marketed Mr. Bubbles. Schafer, who started his career working for his father, says he “cut his teeth” on branding.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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