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Panel selects 5 finalists for president of North Dakota State University

The five finalists were chosen from a national pool of 47 applicants and will be interviewed on the NDSU campus in February.

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Snow falls over the North Dakota State University campus on Dec. 2, 2021.
David Samson / The Forum
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FARGO — The field of candidates for president of North Dakota State University has been winnowed to five finalists who will be interviewed on campus.

The North Dakota State University Presidential Search Committee announced the finalists on Tuesday, Jan. 18, selected from a national pool of candidates.

“The candidates bring leadership experience from flagship universities, institutions with robust and growing research portfolios, and land grant institutions,” Jill Louters, vice chairwoman of the State Board of Higher Education, said in a statement.

The candidates include presidents, chancellors, vice chancellors and provosts:

  • David Cook, vice chancellor for public affairs and economic development, University of Kansas at Lawrence.
  • Hesham El-Rewini, provost and senior vice president of academic affairs, Marymount University in the Washington, D.C., area. He was the dean of the College of Engineering and Mines at the University of North Dakota until 2019.
  • Mary Holz-Clause, chancellor of the University of Minnesota Crookston and Acting Executive Chancellor for the Crookston and Morris U of M campuses.
  • Debra Larson, provost and vice president of academic affairs, California State University at Chico.
  • Michael Tidwell, immediate past president of the University of Texas at Tyler.

The finalists were selected from a pool of 47 applicants who met the qualifications and were considered by the selection committee. After a round of interviews at a hotel by the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport Jan. 5 and 6, the committee chose the five finalists.
Final interviews will be conducted on the NDSU campus on Feb. 23. The next president, who will replace Dean Bresciani, who was named in 2010, is expected to assume office in June.

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More about the finalists:

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David Cook

David Cook: His primary responsibilities at the University of Kansas at Lawrence are to promote the university’s strategic priorities, advance the university’s brand and advise and represent the chancellor. His economic development role focuses on cultivating entrepreneurship, collaboration with industry, commercialization and providing experiential learning for students.

A key part of Cook's role has been an effort to expand the university’s research park, which houses more than 60 corporate tenants and start-up companies, with plans in the next 15 years to expand over 800,000 square feet of new office and laboratory space through a $500 million capital investment.

Cook has master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Kansas. He received his bachelor of arts degree from Iowa State University. He lives in Olathe, Kansas, with his wife Katie. They have three children.

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Hesham El-Rewin

Hesham El-Rewini: El-Rewini has more than 30 years of experience in higher education, with experience in strategic planning, alumni relations, community engagement, industry partnerships and fundraising.

He received his doctorate from Oregon State University before spending 11 years at the University of Nebraska, where he was a professor and interim chairman. He then served as department chairman of the School of Engineering at Southern Methodist University for seven years before becoming dean of engineering at UND. He now serves as provost and senior vice president of Marymount and is a registered engineer in Texas.

During his time at UND, El-Rewini led efforts to improve retention and graduation rates and increase college research spending, student scholarships and the college’s endowment.

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Mary Holz-Clause

Mary Holz-Clause: Holz-Clause has served as chancellor at the University of Minnesota Crookston since 2017, where she has worked in areas of traditional and value-added agriculture, economic development, scientific and medical discovery.

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She was vice president for economic development at the University of Connecticut. At Iowa State University she created initiatives in value-added agriculture and held administrative positions over Extension. At Crookston, she grew online degree programs. Her position was expanded to cover two campuses as acting executive chancellor.

Holz-Clause has a bachelor of science degree in agricultural business, master's of public administration and doctorate in agriculture education and technology transfer, all at Iowa State University. She and her husband have three grown daughters.

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Debra Larson

Debra Larson: Larson is provost and vice president of academic affairs at California State University, Chico. She leads more than 700 faculty and a student population of 15,500. During her five years at Chico State, she has reorganized the university’s research and sponsored program units, grown online curricula and enrollment, and worked to improve the focus on student success, diversity, equity and inclusion. She recently served on an eight-member bargaining team for the Cal State System, resulting in a tentative contract agreement with the 29,000-member faculty union.

Before Chico, Larson was dean of the College of Engineering at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo from 2011 to 2017. During her tenure, she raised $65.7 million and grew corporate partnerships. She launched or expanded new initiatives in cybersecurity, autonomous flight, innovation and entrepreneurship, advanced manufacturing, space systems technology, assistive technologies, liberal arts and engineering as well as safety.

Larson earned her undergraduate degree and master’s in engineering at Michigan Technological University, and her doctoral degree at Arizona State University.

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Michael Tidwell

Michael Tidwell: Tidwell became the fourth president at the University of Texas at Tyler in 2017. As president, he led the university’s efforts to improve its regional economic impact and increase its position as a nationally recognized research university.

During his tenure, The Chronicle of Higher Education ranked UT Tyler as one of the fastest growing research universities in the nation. The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education ranked UT Tyler among national doctoral universities with high research activity. UT Tyler also joined the ranks of national research universities recognized by US News and World Report. The state of Texas honored UT Tyler for having the highest levels of improvement on overall degree completions and degree completions among economically disadvantaged students.

Earlier, Tidwell served as dean of the Eastern Michigan University College of Business and dean of the College of Business at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania.

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He earned his master of arts degree in communication and his doctorate in organizational studies from Washington State University, then began his teaching career at the University of Kentucky. He earned a bachelor’s degree in communication at Ball State University. He and his wife, Karen, have two children.

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