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Last week, I reported that Ashish Vaidya, St. Cloud State’s interim president, had accepted the president’s position at Northern Kentucky University. At the time, I wrote that “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. Additionally, President Vaidya hasn’t been at the University very long. What part of that sounds like a dream job scenario?”

Today, I got word that SCSU’s CFO, who already was leaving at the end of the fiscal year, has accelerated that decision. This afternoon, a loyal reader of LFR sent me a forwarded email from Ashish K. Vaidya, soon to be the former interim president at St. Cloud State. According to the forwarded email, “In early October, I informed campus that Tammy McGee, Vice President for Finance and Administration, was resigning from her position at St. Cloud State University at the end of the academic year. Vice President McGee recently informed me that other professional opportunities will require an earlier departure. I have accepted her resignation effective Jan. 5, 2018. This week, she will finalize various projects to support the transition and beginning Nov. 17, she will be on vacation until her resignation date. Effective today, the division of Finance and Administration will report directly to the Office of the President to make sure the university maintains consistent leadership as we continue our efforts to enhance our financial stability. The search for a permanent replacement will begin shortly and Vice President Wanda Overland will serve as chair. AGB Search, the same firm conducting the national search for the next president, will conduct the search. I will update the campus community on the search process as more details are available.”

Let’s be blunt. The chances of someone of stature applying for the St. Cloud State president’s position aren’t great. Pretending to conduct a routine nationwide search is foolish. This isn’t a routine situation. The next CFO will get hit with an impossible situation. The next president will face annual multi-million dollar deficits and declining enrollment. The odds of attracting someone experienced to either position are slim.

What I find appalling is President Vaidya saying that “the division of Finance and Administration will report directly to the Office of the President to make sure the university maintains consistent leadership as we continue our efforts to enhance our financial stability.” What financial stability? Seriously? What leadership should St. Cloud State expect from the president who’s got 1 foot out the door and the other on a banana peel? I understand why President Vaidya wants to project positivity but who’s he kidding?

It’s understatement to say that St. Cloud State can’t survive long with this much instability. What’s needed is a local search, not a nationwide search. The person needs to a) have a plan and b) know the terrain both from a management standpoint and from a community relations standpoint. Finally, the person needs to be a leader. We haven’t had a leader at St. Cloud State in years.

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