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U drops search firm for new president

October 3, 2018

The University of Minnesota has replaced the firm hired to find its next president after the firm also took on a search for a top leader at another Big Ten university.

The U decided to part ways with Storbeck/Pimentel and Associates because officials felt its decision late last month to work on the presidential search at Michigan State University would divide its loyalties. This summer, the U hired the firm, with offices in California and on the East Coast, to help recruit and vet candidates to replace President Eric Kaler, who is stepping down in June 2019. The university planned to pay the company roughly $220,000, plus expenses.

“We did not make this decision lightly,” David McMillan, chair of the Board of Regents, said in a statement. “We needed a firm dedicated to finding the next great leader of the University of Minnesota.”

The university has engaged the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges to help the 23-member committee of faculty, staff, students and others appointed to lead the search.

The switch is an early setback for the high-stakes search for a new U leader, but Storbeck/Pimentel co-founder Alberto Pimentel said the move will not disrupt the process. He spent time on the U’s campuses late last month attending public forums on the search along with search committee members.

Pimentel said the firm could have comfortably handled both searches at the same time, with a different partner working on each. But he understood the regents’ concerns.

“I think in this case they are doing the right thing to be good stewards of the university,” he said.

He said when regents asked this summer whether his firm was also guiding other peer institution presidential searches, he assured them it was not — but did not promise not to take on any down the road. He said this is a good time to hand the reins over to another consultant.

“We’re not only on schedule; we’re ahead of schedule,” he said. “The recruitment is going phenomenally well. The candidates that started to be assembled are really amazing.”

Storbeck/Pimentel agreed to refund a payment of $74,666 and will be compensated only for expenses the firm incurred.

The University will pay the Association of Governing Boards $150,000 to help complete the search.

Michigan State President Lou Anna Simon resigned in January following intense criticism over that school’s handling of a scandal involving a former university doctor accused of sexually abusing more than 150 young athletes. The physician, Larry Nassar, was convicted of assaulting seven girls.

Mila Koumpilova • 612-673-4781

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