The State Board of Higher Education voted unanimously today to appoint Ed Schafer as interim president of the University of North Dakota. Current UND President Robert Kelley will retire Jan. 14, 2016. Schafer will begin serving as interim president Jan. 15.
The Board also agreed that the timeframe for the interim service and salary would be negotiated by North Dakota University System Chancellor Mark Hagerott with Schafer depending on the needs of the university and the successful search for a permanent president.
“I want to thank Pres. Kelley for his years of service. His tenure saw unprecedented growth in enrollment and program offerings. He helped orchestrate the single largest fundraising campaign in North Dakota history, which raised $324 million for scholarships, endowments and other support. I appreciate his dedication to the university and to the state of North Dakota,” said Hagerott. “Schafer is respected for his leadership, and with his extensive background, he will be able to fulfill the duties as we continue our search for a permanent president.”
At the Chancellor’s recommendation, the Board considered two interim candidates: Schafer and Dr. Thomas DiLorenzo, current UND provost and vice president of Academic Affairs. Hagerott thanked both of them for their willingness to serve. He commended DiLorenzo’s dedication to UND and his time of service there.
“This is a historic time in the shaping of UND’s future and we need someone able to dedicate time to ensuring that we create a path of excellence,” Hagerott said.
Schafer was the governor of North Dakota from 1992 to 2000 and also served as the U.S. secretary of agriculture, overseeing an operating budget of more than $95 billion. He is well-versed in business, having led multinational consumer products business and several entrepreneurial start-up companies. Schafer currently serves on public and private corporate boards of directors and holds leadership positions in foundations and trade associations. He’s also an active member of many civic and service organizations.
The search for the next UND president began immediately after Kelley’s retirement announcement, and a presidential search committee was formed in July. Kelley is the 11th president of UND and began his work at UND on July 1, 2008. The formal search for a new president will launch Nov. 13.