Request denied for additional student representation in search for new university president

Student listening session dates and times. Photo courtesy of the Student Association

Student listening session dates and times. Photo courtesy of the Student Association

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story stated the listening sessions would take place in Kirby Plaza. The correct location is the Kirby Rafters

On Sept. 10, University of Minnesota Student Association presidents from all five campuses teamed up with student representatives to co-author a letter to the Board of Regents. The letter, which was published on The Bark’s website, expressed concern over lack of student representation on the university’s Presidential Search Advisory Committee (PSAC).

The committee was created to assist in the hiring of a new school president, after Eric Kaler, the school’s current president, announced he would be stepping down in July 2019. Although not directly responsible for the hiring of a new president, the committee is in charge of the interview process, and will eventually provide the Board of Regents with their top choices.

Although the committee consist of 24 total members, it has only two students, each of which attend the Twin Cities campus.

“We ask that consideration be made to include more student voices from all five campuses to the committee,” expressed the letter sent to the board.

According to Mike Kenyanya, UMD’s Student Body President, their request for further representation was denied.

“Friday evening, Regent McMillan called me and offered some context,” Kenyanya said. “We got to have a conversation about why it is the way it is. Although I still respectfully disagree with the board’s decision, it was good to have that conversation.”

“If I was making this board, out of 24, I’d put 12 students on it,” Kenyanya said. “We only asked for two more students in our letter. I think four total would have been a reasonable number, especially if the other two were from a different campus.”

Austin Kraft, a Twin Cities undergraduate student representative to the Board of Regents is also concerned about the lack of student representation on then committee.

“The concern is shared across all campuses,” said Kraft. “There’s a lot more to the University of Minnesota than just the Twin Cities campus, and we hope that perspectives beyond the Twin Cities are included in the process.”

The number of students on the committee isn’t the only issue that has Kenyanya worried.

“My issue was that there were no students from a sister campus,” Kenyanya said. “If they had put a Crookston or Morris student on the committee, I would have been satisfied. It doesn’t have to be a Duluth student, but just acknowledging the other campuses.”

UMD’s Student Association is now focusing their attention on Thursday’s presidential search student listening session, which is being put on by the PSAC on each of the schools five campuses.

“We need to pack those sessions to say, ‘Hey, we actually do care about this thing and this is why we wanted to be a part of that process,’” Kenyanya said. “It will look really bad if we don’t have a lot of people show up to the session.”

The listening sessions will take place in Kirby Rafters on Thursday, Sept. 20. The sessions will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. and from 2:00 p.m. to 2:45 p.m.,  anyone is welcome to attend.

NewsJustin Flesher