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Amy Dalrymple, Published October 22 2009

Board to name interim NDSU president Friday

Provost Craig Schnell is a favorite among North Dakota State University deans and some faculty to become interim president.

Meanwhile, higher education leaders will interview a candidate outside of NDSU today about the interim job.

The state Board of Higher Education will meet Friday to name a temporary replacement for President Joseph Chapman, who has resigned effective Jan. 2.

Chancellor Bill Goetz and board President Richie Smith have received several recommendations from campus, as well as community members and alumni.

NDSU’s deans and the university distinguished professors sent letters to Goetz with unanimous support for Schnell, who has worked for NDSU for 24 years and served as provost since 2002.

“We think it’s very important to have someone who is knowledgeable about all of the areas of academic affairs on the campus and who would be able to maintain the impetus we have at the present time,” said Tom Riley, dean of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.

Schnell could not be reached for comment.

Officials have talked to nearly everyone on Chapman’s Cabinet, which includes Schnell, about the interim appointment, Smith said.

“We know fairly well everyone on the Cabinet, so we’re not having any formal interviews of those people at this time,” Smith said.

Goetz and Smith will interview someone who does not work for NDSU about the interim job today, Smith said. He declined to name the individual.

“He comes highly recommended and has a very, very strong resume,” Smith said.

Community members have also suggested Allan Fischer, who served as interim president before Chapman’s presidency.

Fischer, of Moorhead, is dean emeritus of NDSU’s College of Science and Math. Fischer, who has an office on campus he goes to nearly every day, said he’d be interested in the job.

“NDSU has been my life, therefore I’m willing to give it another six months,” he said.

Officials have received Ellen Chaffee’s name as a suggestion, Smith said. She retired in 2008 as president of Valley City (N.D.) State University.

“I have the greatest respect for NDSU,” Chaffee said of the possibility. “I don’t know. I wouldn’t rule it out.”

Another suggestion officials received was Philip Austin, an NDSU alumnus who is retired from the presidency of the University of Connecticut, Smith said. Officials contacted Austin and he’s not interested, Smith said.

Smith estimates he received up to 20 names of candidates to consider.

He said board members want someone who will continue moving NDSU forward and who can redevelop relationships with the Legislature and the community.

“We want somebody who keeps the agenda moving,” Smith said. “We want someone to heal some wounds that exist with the foundation and the community and the state that apparently are there right now.”

During Friday’s meeting, board members also will discuss the search for a permanent president. The goal is for a new president to begin July 1.

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