UND President Robert Kelley is set to retire early next year, ducking out early on his contract with the state and leaving behind him an angry mess of dissatisfied students, disillusioned faculty, and alienated alumni.
The question is, who will take Kelley place once he’s gone?
The State Board of Higher Education is currently working on selecting an interim president for the first half of 2016. While Lt. Governor Drew Wrigley’s name has been thrown around as a possible replacement for Kelley, he has said he’d only be interested in the permanent position not an interim gig.
One name I have heard for the interim gig is former Ed Schafer who was governor of North Dakota from 1992 until 2000 and served as the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture under George W. Bush from 2008 to 2009.
Schafer is definitely in the running for the position, and is taking the idea seriously. One lawmaker has said Schafer’s appointment is a “done deal,” but another source says Schafer is still considering it and that a decision will be made next week.
I reached out to Schafer this afternoon to confirm this but couldn’t reach him. I’ll update if/when I hear from him.
Schafer seems like he would be a wise choice. At this point in his career he’s not looking for a long-term commitment, but given his long history in the state he would bring a level of respect to the position that few others could.
With UND badly in need of repairing relationships across the board, Schafer could be a good post-Kelley first step.
UPDATE: Schafer tells me via email that he’s “taking about it” but that “there are some issues about the commitment that would have to be overcome given my current activities.”