Finalists named for next University of Minnesota president

10 months after the University of Minnesota’s president was named chancellor at a different university, the pool for a permanent replacement has been narrowed to three.

The university revealed its three finalists on Friday, two weeks after its search committee recommended four candidates for the role. They are Laura Bloomberg, James Holloway and Rebecca Cunningham. None of them currently work at the U of M, although one did in the past.

Bloomberg is the current president of Cleveland State University. She previously served in the U of M’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, first as a professor starting in 2007 and then four years each as an associate dean and dean until she left in 2021.

Holloway is the provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at the University of New Mexico. He’s also held major administrative roles at the University of Michigan since 2007.

Cunningham is the vice president for research and innovation at the University of Michigan, where she’s been a faculty member in the university’s public health and medicine schools since 1999. She previously served in an associate vice president role in which she oversaw research faculty affairs.

The U of M says all three will visit each of the university’s five campuses — in Crookston, Duluth, Morris, Rochester and the Twin Cities — to meet with students, faculty, staff and the public in a series of open forums. Those visits will start Monday and livestream options will be available for those unable to attend in person. More details on the visits are available online.

“The Board is proud to advance such highly qualified finalists for the University’s top leadership position — all from an outstanding group of candidates,” Board of Regents Chair Janie Mayeron said. “Selecting the next president is one of the Board’s most important responsibilities, and reaching this significant step was only possible thanks to the commitment and hard work of members of the Presidential Search Advisory Committee and hundreds of people from the University community and beyond who have shared their perspectives so far.”

“Now is the time for the University community to interview these finalists and provide feedback to the Board of Regents,” she added. “We hope students, faculty, staff and Minnesotans from around the state take this role seriously and engage the finalists at upcoming public forums.”

Joan Gabel, the former U of M president, was named chancellor at the University of Pittsburgh on April 3. The next month, the U of M Board of Regents picked Jeff Ettinger, the former CEO of Hormel, to be the interim president, a role he started in July when Gabel officially left.

Since then, a 24-member search committee recruited 46 candidates to become the U of M’s next president and interviewed 12 of those before narrowing the pool to the top four late last month.

According to the university, the Board of Regents will hold a special meeting to publicly interview the finalists and decide who to appoint on Feb. 26.

Ettinger is set to leave the job on June 20.

The public can provide feedback on the finalists here.