University of Minnesota hires consulting firm to guide presidential search

August 8, 2018

The University of Minnesota will form a special advisory committee and pay an executive search firm $200,000 to help find a successor to President Eric Kaler, who is stepping down next June.

The Board of Regents announced that it has hired Storbeck/Pimentel Associates, a national consulting firm that specializes in colleges and universities, to recruit candidates and help guide the search process.

The board has scheduled a special meeting Thursday to review the plans for the search, which is expected to begin in September. Under a tentative timetable, the search is expected to take 14 weeks. The board is also in the process of forming a campus search advisory committee, which will include faculty, staff, students and community members.

We do want to move decisively and quickly, said David McMillan, the board chairman.

The Storbeck firm, which has offices on both coasts, says it has led 200 searches for college and university presidents or chancellors since 2007.

Its also the firm that was involved in a failed 2017 search for a new chancellor of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. In that case, the three finalists were ultimately rejected by the board of trustees. A second search, using a different search firm, also foundered earlier this year.

Michael Vekich, chairman of the Minnesota State board of trustees, declined to talk about his experience with Storbeck/Pimentel, saying he didnt want to comment on the Us search process. After spending $267,000 on two failed national searches, his board eventually promoted the interim Minnesota State chancellor, Devinder Malhotra, to the permanent position in March.

McMillan, who heads the Us board, said he doesnt blame the consultants when searches go awry, and that the Storbeck/Pimentel firm has an impressive track record across the country.

They are a national firm with very deep experience in the higher education field, he said. Theres multiple things at work when things dont go well, and I look to the ultimate hiring authority.

He noted that Storbeck/Pimentel, described as a woman- and minority-owned executive search firm, has worked with many top colleges and universities to deliver a diverse set of qualified candidates. Theyve got experience at the top of the food chain.

The firm will be advising the Us campus search committee, as well as helping to identify and vet candidates. The U has created a website to provide updates and take public comments on the search.

On Thursday, the regents are scheduled to vote on a new contract for Kaler, who will become president emeritus in 2019 and return to teaching in 2021. During his first year as president emeritus, Kaler will receive his current salary, $625,250, with half paid with philanthropic funds, under the revised contract. In addition, hell receive $156,312 for a six-month paid leave before returning to the classroom. His salary as a full professor of chemical engineering and material science will be $312,625 a year.

Maura Lerner 612-673-7384

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