Education

University of Minnesota presidential finalists visit school’s campuses

James Holloway was the first candidate to visit the Twin Cities campus

A man speaks on stage
James Holloway, the provost and vice president of academic affairs at the University of New Mexico, speaks during a public forum on Wednesday about his candidacy for president at the University of Minnesota.
Peter Cox | MPR News

The University of Minnesota has started the interview process for three finalists named for the position of the president of the university.

Finalists started visiting the university’s five campuses starting Monday. Wednesday, the first candidate — James Holloway — visited the Twin Cities campus for a quick interview with media, a public forum and an open house.

Holloway is currently the provost and vice president for academic affairs at the University of New Mexico.

Holloway was asked why he's interested in the position.

“The University of Minnesota is not just the University of Minnesota, but the university for Minnesota,” he said. “So not every university is dedicated to the success of the state that supports it in the way that the University of Minnesota is. So for me, that’s a really important attribute for any university — to truly be focused on the success of the state and the people of the state that supports it."

Holloway has a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from the University of Illinois and a certificate of advanced studies in mathematics from Cambridge University. He has a doctorate in engineering physics from the University of Virginia. He spent 29 years at the University of Michigan, where he taught nuclear engineering and held several administrative roles.

Holloway was asked how he would address campus safety around the Twin Cities campus. He said increasing patrols, adding more blue lights in Dinkytown and adding safety walks are all good steps that the campus has taken.

“It’s really important for folks to know that safety improvements are happening,” he said. “Because safety has two parts, really, safety has the physical safety, if you will, but it also has people’s feeling of safety. And both are important. And we need to address both as part of any safety initiative.”

Holloway spoke about the importance of free speech on campus, saying institutions should not take stands on important issues, unless it is something that directly affects them. Rather, he says, the role of the university, as an institution, is to protect the rights of individuals to express themselves.

“The number one thing that higher education institutions have to do is to be absolute models for free speech. And that means higher education institutions have to do some really hard things. It’s very easy to defend free speech when someone says something I agree with,” he said.

“When free speech needs to be defended is when someone says something I find abhorrent. And higher education institutions have to be the place where that can happen, where that can be allowed.”

The next candidate to visit the Twin Cities campus will be Laura Bloomberg, the president of Cleveland State University on Friday. Rebecca Cunningham, the vice president of research and innovation at the University of Michigan, will visit on Wednesday.

Correction: (Feb. 16. 2024) An earlier version of the story had the incorrect date for Rebecca Cunningham's visit to the University of Minnesota. The article has been updated.

Volume Button
Volume
Now Listening To Livestream
MPR News logo
On Air
MPR News