The State Board of Higher Education plans to hire a new chancellor for the North Dakota University System to be in place by July 1, 2015. The search has involved a rigorous process, including various resources including Listening Meetings, the assistance of a Search Advisory Team of key stakeholders and coordination by a professional higher education search firm.
The three semi-finalists are in North Dakota this week to meet a variety of constituents, stakeholders, faculty and staff. Their trips will culminate in an interview with the State Board of Higher Education and the Search Advisory Team on April 30. From there, the Board will either make a decision on a final candidate or advance two or three of the candidates to a final interview May 14.
“The Board looks forward to interviewing all three of these highly qualified applicants,” said Terry Hjelmstad, Board Chair. “Each of them brings something very important to the future of higher education in North Dakota, and we need to ensure that we match the right candidate with the needs of North Dakota’s higher education system. I am sure that through the input of all of those involved, we will be successful in this goal.”
Dr. Robert Donley
Donley has more than 30 years’ experience in public and private executive management, including 20 years in higher education executive management with the State University Systems in both Florida and Iowa. He has worked in state government and the private sector and is currently the state higher education executive officer in Iowa.
“My experience in state government, drafting bills, and working on compromises across party lines has given me the opportunity to do a very good job on the campus and in the vice chancellor positions. You need to be able to have the political savvy and the tools necessary to have that broad-based understanding,” he said.
Donley said the future focus in the chancellor position needs to be about longer term strategic planning and how that integrates with the Board’s vision.
“Decisions need to be made in close collaboration with institutional leadership. It’s all about listening to students, stakeholders and what they think is important. It’s really about compromise, and I have the skillset to forge those partnerships and those relationships. At the end of the day, this all needs to be about students,” he said.
Donley said that there are a number of similarities between the system in which he currently works and the North Dakota system.
“I commend you on your system. I think you’ve done a great deal in terms of support for higher education. The citizens of North Dakota, legislators, the governor and the Board’s plan talk about coordinated access and shared vision for the system. You do have some challenges ahead, and I look at those as opportunities,” he said.
Donley said the vision and the strategic plan is in place, so he would focus his efforts directly on “building partnerships with the institutional leadership and the legislature.”
Donley’s core leadership philosophy is “shared governance.” He said, “I don’t believe you can accomplish great things without shared governance. My definition is involvement, listening, communicating with all stakeholders to ensure that they have a voice in what is happening. Certainly we need to listen and be very inclusive – that’s the only way you can accomplish what the Board is looking for – from a strategic plan to a new initiative.”
Dr. Mark R. Hagerott
Hagerott has held several academic leadership positions over the past seven years at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, where he currently serves as the senior civilian and deputy director of the new Cyber Center and academic program. With a full career in the U.S. Navy, he has held leadership roles to include dean of humanities and social sciences, special assistant to the provost, chair of the admissions board, and leadership of senior faculty senate committees pertaining to assessment and accreditation.
Hagerott is originally from North Dakota and still has family connections to the area. “My background is fourth generation family farm in North Dakota. My great grandfather settled there, and it’s something I hold dear. My dad, at 80 years of age is still farming, and I come back from time to time to help him out.”
He said that in a time of significant if not unprecedented technological and social change, the selection of your next chancellor constitutes a critically important step in making North Dakota higher education even better than it is now. “A key feature of my success has been the communication of shared values between the leadership team and the larger community; a commitment to the transparency of the process; and inclusivity,” he said during the online interview.
He said that he has found approaching policy development in complex environments in this manner builds confidence and support for implementation of new strategies, and creates an increased capacity for patience with adjustments. “I would continue to use such a consultative and inclusive approach as NDUS and stakeholders implement the Board’s framework,” Hagerott said.
He spent the first part of his career in engineering and technology, and then 10 years ago switched to higher education. Hagerott has been studying and writing about the evolution of technology in that time. He said that his qualifications include several years of experience both in the military and civilian world and revolve around integration and collaboration.
“Communication flow and transparency will enhance the collaboration between the universities and stakeholders. I am personally committed to the students and other stakeholders of our beautiful state, committed to help each of the member colleges and universities achieve greater success. One of the great benefits of NDUS is its diversity – academically, geographically, and variable size of student body,” he said.
Hagerott believes that the NDUS needs to be positioned for a changing future. “It’s a time of wonderful opportunity. What I see is continuous demands, and we need to give our workforce a strong foundation of knowledge through higher education so that they can teach us in the future. We need to look at our education programs and give our faculty the resources to continue to advance technology as well as support the arts and humanities through adaptive education,” he said.
He said that North Dakota can be on the front of that change with energy, oil, natural gas and all of our resources. “We need to invest in these things and find out what programs we need to invest in to further these priorities. We need to articulate and tell the story of higher education within the already established framework to give it the attention that it deserves. We have to think – ‘What is our enduring asset?’ Our people, their knowledge and the land are our sustainable research that will ensure success in the years to come.”
Dr. Paul D. Turman
Turman’s previous experiences have been in both the educational and administrative fields within higher education. He currently works for the South Dakota Board of Regents as the vice president for academic affairs and has held previous positions on the Board of Regents in research and economic development as well academic assessment.
“My career path has taken me from South Dakota to Nebraska/Iowa and back home to Pierre as I have treasured our Midwest culture and the people that foster it. While each state has its own unique dynamics, I believe my background and knowledge of the people and issues in the area can be influential in making an immediate impact in a state like North Dakota,” he said.
Turman grew up in South Dakota with deep roots in higher education as his mother served as the assistant to the South Dakota Board of Regent’s executive director for 37 years. “Days would not go by where she didn’t mention the Board of Regents and the good it was doing for the state of South Dakota. That has resonated with me over time,” he said.
He said that what he’s enjoyed the most about his experience in higher education is the variety of experiences he has had working with the whole spectrum of stakeholders within his state to include legislators, the governor’s office and institutions.
“There are times when you want an institution to be independent and entrepreneurial to come up with their own ideas and activities that can allow that institution to flourish. The goal would be to bring those back and help other institutions in the state accomplish some of the same benefits. The ongoing ability to share best practices is one of those driving features that a system office can accomplish. We know that, by doing things collaboratively in the state, each institution can benefit,” Turman said.
This collaborative approach is something Turman believes should help tie institutions together from the system and Board level.
“As I looked at your mission statement, one of the things that really caught my eye is that you’re really striving to make sure that you’re meeting the needs for a better living for people who live in North Dakota. An individual’s ability to achieve a degree that can make them competitive in a workforce that is constantly changing is going to be one of those things that we can make more viable. The biggest challenge in meeting our degree attainment levels is that we’re not going to be able to do that without the resources.”
He said that as a result, coming up with new, more non-traditional delivery methods, such as competency-based programs could be key to building the system’s future. “We need to continually evolve the way we deliver programs, not only for students in our state, but students from other states who will come to get a degree here at a competitive price, and then are willing to stay here once they are done. As workforce demands change and evolve, we need to use the information that comes from our institutions to help spur that economic development activity,” Turman said.
Something he’s found throughout his years in higher education to be valuable is situational leadership and listening to other’s perspectives.
“I’ve found that by taking my vision and merging that to create a shared vision with the campuses and staff here, along with working with the Board that we can come to the process of mutually negotiating what we think that shared vision should be. The outcome certainly is going to be more vested in where we end up because they’ve been part of that process,” he said.