Gardner: Gaining trust is a priority
The first job for a new North Dakota State University president is to establish trust, said the final candidate who visited campus Friday. John Gardner, who arrived for his campus visit the same day an audit critical of the university system was ...
The first job for a new North Dakota State University president is to establish trust, said the final candidate who visited campus Friday.
John Gardner, who arrived for his campus visit the same day an audit critical of the university system was released, said if hired as NDSU president, he would work to earn the trust of the NDSU community, alumni, legislators and the public.
"In my view, NDSU is fully capable of doing that," said Gardner, vice president for economic development and global engagement for Washington State University.
Gardner said he was attracted to the NDSU job not for the title of president but because of his experience living in North Dakota and working for the NDSU Carrington Research Extension Center.
"We have a strong affinity for the state, the people, the land and NDSU," Gardner said.
Gardner, a native of the Kansas City, Mo., area, spoke to about 200 faculty, staff, students and community members Friday during an open forum.
Gardner said he has four principles that would guide him as NDSU president: inspiration, excellence, accountability and accessibility.
While talking about accountability, Gardner referenced the audit and the concerns it raised about NDSU building projects.
If universities can't earn trust, then they end up with more bureaucracy and potentially lose public-private partnerships like those that have allowed NDSU to expand, he said.
Gardner also emphasized the need to set milestones, such as increasing research expenditures or attracting more students in the top 10 percent of their high school class, and measure those milestones against similar universities.
The search committee will meet Thursday to forward three of the four names to the state Board of Higher Education.
Committee chairman Steve Swiontek said the two-and-a-half-day campus visits of each candidate have been intense but productive.
Committee member Mark Meister said each of the four candidates would represent NDSU well.
"All candidates will help re-establish and solidify NDSU's credibility in the state," Meister said.
The board will interview the three finalists on May 24 and select a president.
- Age: 52
- Current job: Vice president for economic development and global engagement for Washington State University.
- Degrees: Ph.D. in agronomy, crop physiology from the University of Nebraska; master's degree in agronomy and bachelor's degree in agriculture from Kansas State University.
- Background: He previously worked for the University of Missouri, most recently as vice president for research and economic development. He was president and general manager for AgGrow Oils, a North Dakota grower-owned agricultural processing business, from 1996-99. He directed the NDSU Carrington Research Extension Center from 1987-96.
- Family: Wife, Julie, and three adult children.
- Online: Visit www.ndsu.edu/news/transition to read his resume and cover letter and to watch a recording of the open forum. Comments may be e-mailed to email@example.com .
- What's next: The search committee meets at 1 p.m. Thursday in the Plains Room of the NDSU Memorial Union to select finalists.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Amy Dalrymple at (701) 241-5590