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This morning, Devinder Malhotra, the interim chancellor for MnSCU, published a letter announcing that Ashish Vaidya, the interim president of St. Cloud State, “has accepted the presidency at Northern Kentucky University”, adding that “President Vaidya came into his current presidency at a very difficult time. With the sudden passing of President Earl Potter, St. Cloud State University needed a leader who could not only keep the university moving forward in a positive manner but also help the university heal.”

Later in the letter, Malhotra wrote “Both in his time as provost and as interim president, President Vaidya has brought to the university a laser focus that faculty and staff needed to address the institution’s challenges, which culminated in the successful completion of the strategic plan with a strong focus on growing enrollment and retention.”

Still later in the letter, Malhotra said “President Vaidya had strong support both across campus and in the St. Cloud community. It was their feedback that prompted me to develop a path to retain him. In my conversations with President Vaidya, he shared how difficult this decision was for him. I respect his decision as he pursues the next phase of his professional career.”

First, it’s impossible for me to believe that this was a difficult decision. The University’s CFO is leaving. Programs are being reduced in size. Enrollment is down. Further, the deficits keep ‘arriving’ annually. Further, President Vaidya hasn’t been at the University very long. What part of that sounds like a dream job scenario?

Here’s the full text of the letter:

Dear Colleagues, As you know, Interim President Ashish Vaidya has accepted the presidency at Northern Kentucky University. Please join me in congratulating him on this great honor. President Vaidya came into his current presidency at a very difficult time. With the sudden passing of President Earl Potter, St. Cloud State University needed a leader who could not only keep the university moving forward in a positive manner but also help the university heal. He did just that. President Vaidya mourned along with students, faculty, staff, and the community but also gave them something to hope for. A stronger and better university – a stronger and better St. Cloud.

Both in his time as provost and as interim president, President Vaidya has brought to the university a laser focus that faculty and staff needed to address the institution’s challenges, which culminated in the successful completion of the strategic plan with a strong focus on growing enrollment and retention. In the last year, he led the effort to raise $4.1 million, which represents a 22 percent increase over the previous year; and worked with the legislative delegation to secure $18 million for the Eastman Hall project. In addition, he has fostered deep relationships with the city and the community, serving on multiple boards including the Central Minnesota Initiative Foundation and the Greater St. Cloud Development Corporation.

His leadership was perhaps best witnessed during the events that followed the St. Cloud Crossroads Mall stabbing. President Vaidya along with university and community leaders came together in an incredible demonstration of support. He engaged students, faculty, and staff and listened – he trusted in their leadership that together they would find a way for the university and the community to move forward. Perhaps that is his greatest talent – the ability to listen and for others to be heard. For that we are grateful for his contributions and leadership not only to St. Cloud State University but to Minnesota State as well.

The feedback I received from internal and external stakeholders was abundantly clear during my recent visit to campus. President Vaidya had strong support both across campus and in the St. Cloud community. It was their feedback that prompted me to develop a path to retain him. In my conversations with President Vaidya, he shared how difficult this decision was for him. I respect his decision as he pursues the next phase of his professional career.

In my brief time as chancellor, I have been impressed with President Vaidya’s strategic and analytical mind, his integrity, and his deep passion and commitment for the university and student success. So it is understandable that Northern Kentucky University saw those same qualities. The students, faculty, and staff at NKU are fortunate to have a leader of President Vaidya’s caliber to lead the university.

President Vaidya will see his commitment to St. Cloud State University through until June 30, 2018, successfully completing his two-year contract. We will begin a national search immediately. The services of AGB Search have been secured, and a search chair will be named by the end of this week. A timeline of events will be shared in the coming week. It is my intention to kick off the search prior to the Thanksgiving holiday. In order to do that I need your help to give me insight on the qualities that you would like to see in the next president of St. Cloud State University. I also will be asking for your help as we all need to be in recruiting mode over the weeks ahead to have a strong pool of candidates to invite to campus.

I look forward to working with you over the next few months to find a leader who can continue to build on the great work of President Vaidya and the SCSU community.

Best,

Devinder Malhotra
Interim Chancellor

Rumors started surfacing months ago that Vaidya was interviewing for other jobs. This announcement isn’t surprising from the standpoint that people expected him to leave this situation. The instability, both of the University and at MnSCU, doesn’t lend itself to attracting the best candidates for major offices. Malhotra is the interim Chancellor of MnSCU. St Cloud State’s problems keep multiplying.

It’s “bullroar” to think that Vaidya successfully completed “the strategic plan with a strong focus on growing enrollment and retention.” Enrollment is still declining and retention isn’t good. I’m not blaming these things on President Vaidya. He inherited a difficult situation. I’m merely stating that he didn’t accomplish what Malhotra said he accomplished.

UPDATE: Here’s Vaidya’s announcement from NKU:

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