Now that St. Cloud State’s interim president has announced that he’s accepted the job as president of Northern Kentucky University, it’s time to get serious in finding a highly qualified presidential candidate from the local ranks.

In this post, I wrote St. Cloud State needs “a president that will instantly connect with area principals. What’s needed, too, is someone who will sell the University’s programs. It’s imperative to immediately create a positive buzz about the University. … What’s needed is someone who’s already familiar with SCSU and someone who’s a no-nonsense person.”

I stand by that statement. In fact, I’d add to that statement. There are undoubtedly people on campus who would love that job. It’s my opinion that few of these potential candidates are qualified to turn St. Cloud State around. Ultimately, that’s the biggest requirement. It isn’t a character trait, per se, but it’s essential.

Campus activists like Tracey Ore, Mark Jaede and Steve Hornstein need not apply. They’ve spent too much time sucking up to the administration in exchange for cushy jobs. Further, I’d bet the proverbial ranch that none of them have a plan that would turn the University around. (That alone disqualifies them.) I’d consider each of these people a ‘social justice hire’ in that they’re so ultra-liberal that pushing that agenda would likely be their primary mission. We don’t need to pay activists $300,000+ a year to ignore the campus while being full-time political activists. (Yes, I’m questioning their commitment to turning the University around.)

What’s needed is a president with leadership skills and a commitment to rebuilding, not rebranding, St. Cloud State. St. Cloud State spent $430,000+ on rebranding in 2012-13. St. Cloud was told that everything was fine, that the University was just “right-sizing.” It’s 5 years later and the enrollment decline is still happening. (Are we still right-sizing the University?)

To be fair, it isn’t all the University’s fault. Part of the problem is that Minnesota has been experiencing a net outmigration of people of all age groups for the past 15+ years. According to the Minnesota Demographer’s Office, “While 21,000 young adults move to Minnesota each year to attend college or graduate school, even greater numbers of students (29,000) leave the state each year. In fact, two-thirds of Minnesota’s total annual domestic net loss is due to Minnesota students leaving for higher education, and far fewer return in the post-college years. Thus, retaining more of our college-bound young adults at in-state institutions may be a key strategy to long-term population retention and labor force development.”

In other words, what’s needed is an economic plan that incentivizes young people to stay, graduate from college, then start and build businesses. Minnesota’s economic blueprint isn’t doing that. If that doesn’t change, Minnesota’s universities will be facing a competitive deficit. There’s no other way to say this. Minnesota’s economic policies affect whether young people leave the state or whether they stay. For the past 20 years, DFL politicians didn’t listen while young people and people from all age groups left.

If a young person’s goal is to be an entrepreneur, why would that person pick a state with high taxes and unreasonable regulations? While some will criticize me for making that political statement, I don’t care because those things are intertwined.

Finally, I wrote this post to highlight the state of disarray St. Cloud State is in:

This afternoon, a loyal reader of LFR sent me a forwarded email from Ashish 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.”

The interim president is leaving. The interim provost is sitting in limbo. The CFO left unexpectedly. The CIO left, too. Now the interim chancellor (who used to be the interim president at Metropolitan State University) wants to conduct a nationwide search for a wet-behind-the-ears candidate that will be unprepared for the daunting job of rebuilding St. Cloud State. What could possibly go wrong?

Seriously, St. Cloud State needs someone who a) has already proven their loyalty to the University, b) has unquestioned leadership skills and c)has a plan to rebuild the University. That’s why campus activists needn’t apply for this job.

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