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Committee seeks active interim

An interim chancellor for the North Dakota University System should be an active leader and not simply a caretaker, search committee members said Wednesday.

Robert Potts

An interim chancellor for the North Dakota University System should be an active leader and not simply a caretaker, search committee members said Wednesday.

During a meeting to discuss nine candidates who are interested in the position, the committee decided to make the interim job a 17-month to two-year commitment.

Previously, the committee said a temporary replacement for Chancellor Robert Potts would work for one year or until a permanent chancellor is hired.

A longer term would allow the interim chancellor to function with a full range of authority, said John Q. Paulsen, state Board of Higher Education president and chairman of the search committee.

The six-member committee plans to suggest one or two finalists to the Board of Higher Education by July 28.


Potts has said he wants to resign by Aug. 1. The board meets today to vote on a proposed settlement that calls for Potts to work for the system for a year as a consultant. The search committee would like an interim to begin Aug. 1 or soon after.

During Wednesday's conference call meeting, Paulsen said he's pleased by the group of well-respected candidates for the interim position.

They are:

- Chuck Cheney, who retired in June as superintendent of the West Fargo School District. He began working for the district in 1965.

Cheney said he's interested in the job because higher education can have an effect on the future and economic climate of the state.

- W. Jeremy Davis, former dean of the University of North Dakota School of Law, where he spent 30 years.

He is planning to retire from the Appalachian School of Law in Virginia and return to North Dakota.

- Eddie Dunn, vice chancellor for strategic planning and executive director of the College Technical Education Council for the North Dakota University System, where he's worked since 1993.


Dunn, who had announced he planned to retire from the university system at the end of the year, said Wednesday he's interested in being considered for the interim job.

- Phil Harmeson, senior associate to the president at the University of North Dakota.

Harmeson was named a finalist in 2004 for the Minot State University presidency but withdrew as a candidate. He has worked in higher education since 1983.

- Paul Markel, associate professor of psychology, Minot State University, where he's spent 11 years.

He's a former president of the Minot State Faculty Senate and said he has deep roots in North Dakota and exposure to state government.

- James Schobel, who was president of Mayville State University between 1973 and 1993 and then taught at North Dakota State University for two years before moving to North Carolina.

Schobel, who now lives in Hayward, Wis., said former colleagues at Mayville and NDSU suggested that he put his name in as a candidate.

- Earl Strinden, former executive vice president of UND's alumni association and the UND Development Foundation. He is also a former majority leader of the state House of Representatives.


- Richard Tschider, retired CEO and president of St. Alexius Medical Center in Bismarck, where he worked for 46 years.

Tschider is also a member of the Bismarck State College Foundation and said he's familiar with higher education.

- Lee Vickers, who has been president of Dickinson State University since 1999.

Before coming to Dickinson, Vickers had 20 years of experience as a college president, previously working in South Carolina and Idaho.

Vickers had been appointed to the search committee, but withdrew from it after he was nominated for the interim job.

He was traveling Wednesday and could not be reached for comment.

Ellen Chaffee, president of Valley City State University, was appointed to replace Vickers on the committee.

The search committee will review resumes of each candidate and meet again on Tuesday.


Committee members have said they're looking for someone with leadership experience who's familiar with the Legislature and the university system and can manage conflict.

The interim could not apply for the permanent chancellor position, but the board could ask the interim to be considered.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Amy Dalrymple at (701) 241-5590

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