MnSCU down to two finalists in chancellor search

Two men with different paths through the world of higher education have emerged as finalists for the chancellor's position at the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system.

On Monday, the MnSCU Board of Trustees publicly named a vice president from the University of Minnesota, and the head of a higher education system in Utah, as finalists for the system's top job.

A search committee whittled down 46 possible candidates for the MnSCU chancellor job, to four-semi finalists, and one alternate.

Two of the semi-finalists, and the alternate, didn't want to take part in public interviews, and dropped out of the process.

That left two finalists: Steven Rosenstone, a vice president at the University of Minnesota, and William Sederburg, Utah's commissioner of higher education.

Travis Johnson, president of the Minnesota State College Student Association, was part of the committee that picked the finalists. He said they're both solid candidates for MnSCU's top job.

"I'm just really excited for the public interviews to see where the board goes," he said. "They're two very different but also very dynamic personalities, so we'll what happens."

The two candidates share at least one thing in common, they have Minnesota ties.

Steven Rosenstone has been at the University of Minnesota for 15 years. He's currently the vice president of scholarly and cultural affairs at the university.

William Sederburg, is the commissioner of higher education in Utah. But he grew up in Minnesota, and graduated from Minnesota State University-Mankato.

The two candidates careers though, have taken different paths.

Rosenstone has risen through academia and leadership at the University of Minnesota, the University of Michigan and Yale University.

Sederburg started in politics. He was a state senator in Michigan from 1978 to 1991. And was the president of two universities before becoming Utah's higher education commissioner.

Neither man would comment for this story. But in statements released through MnSCU, both said they were excited to meet with the system's board of trustees in public interviews over the next two days.

Jim Parente, dean of the University of Minnesota's College of Liberal Arts, said he worked under Rosenstone when he was dean of the college.

"He's a great leader and a great administrator," Parente said. "But beyond that it's because of his breadth of knowledge of higher education and the different types of higher education institutions that there are that's going to make him very sensitive to the differences between the MnSCU campuses."

Parente said he respects Rosenstone's academic chops, but says he's also a leader who can handle the ins and outs of finance. And he said Rosenstone knows how to work with lawmakers, something that's important in these tough budget times.

Meanwhile William Sederburg knows all the "tricks of the trade" in the political game, said Val Hale, the vice president for university relations at Utah Valley University.

Hale started at the college six years ago, when Sederburg was president.

Hale says Sederburg is a "bright, educated man" and has the skills required to run a higher education system like MnSCU.

"He has the capacity to process a lot of things and have a lot of balls up in the air juggling at the same time. It sounds to me like that's the type of thing that would be necessary for that chancellor's position," he said.

Hale said Sederburg's vision of higher education is "economically driven" and he sees educating the public as the best way to help the economy.

The finalists will get to make their own cases over the next two days when they meet with MnSCU administrators, faculty and students.

On Wednesday the board of trustees will publicly interview the two candidates. The board is expected offer one of them the job the same day.

The current MnSCU chancellor, James McCormick, is retiring this summer. McCormick leaves office July 31.

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