BEMIDJI -- Minnesota State Chancellor Devinder Malhotra visited Bemidji State and Northwest Technical College on Thursday, Sept. 16, to begin the search for a new president for the two colleges.

With the new president expected to take office July 1, 2022 following President Faith Hensrud’s retirement set for June 30 of next year, Malhotra met with faculty, staff, students and community members to kick off the search process.

While participating in listening sessions, Malhotra took note of what the BSU and NTC communities want in their next president and where they want the colleges to be in the coming years.

“(The visit) really provides to the candidates and to us, what are the aspirational goals and objectives of the two institutions and what kind of leader we should be looking for,” Malhotra told the Pioneer.

Following Thursday’s listening sessions, the search is expected to continue through at least the fall semester, during which a search advisory committee will narrow their pool of candidates down to eight to 12 people for interviews.

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This committee, chaired by Metropolitan State University President Virginia “Ginny” Arthur, will consist of community members and staff from both colleges. Invitations to participate in the committee will be sent at the end of September, after which the group will be formed and other steps of the search process will be solidified.

“As our search advisory committee is formulated, the intermediate steps will become more obvious,” Malhotra said. “Such as when the finalists will be announced and when they will come to campus.”

Following semi-finalist interviews and candidate campus visits, Malhotra said he hopes he can make his recommendation for the new president in March if the search process goes according to plan.

The recruiting firm helping with the search is Greenwood/Asher and Associates, which Malhotra detailed has conducted around 2,000 successful national searches in higher education.

“They were the same search consultants we had for a very successful search for the new president at Minnesota State University-Mankato,” Malhotra said. “(Successful searches are completed) mostly at the senior leadership level, like the provosts, presidents, deans.”

Regarding the national scope of the search, Malhotra mentioned, “our search consultants will cast a wide net and look for high-caliber talent in leading vibrant institutions like Northwest Technical College and Bemidji State University.”

The kick-off of this search comes after outgoing President Hensrud announced her plans for retirement on Friday, Aug. 13.

“As of June 30, 2022, I will be retiring as president at BSU,” Hensrud said during a press conference. “Serving the past five years have provided the most fulfilling moments of my professional career as we worked to help the state, students and community.”

Malhotra spoke highly of Hensrud’s contributions at both BSU and NTC since she assumed her role in 2016.

“President Hensrud has been an exemplary leader, and Bemidji State University and Northwest Technical College have grown and thrived under her leadership over the past five years,” Malhotra said. “President Hensrud has led both institutions with a strong focus on the success of all students and has expanded the educational opportunities for all students.”

With the search moving forward, Malhotra detailed his vision of the two colleges' futures with regards to BSU’s mission of being a destination college for Native American students and being welcoming to all populations.

“We would like to be known nationally as a very welcoming, vibrant, successful environment for Native students,” Malhotra said before referencing Equity 2030, a system-wide initiative to close educational equity gaps across race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status and geographic location by 2030.

According to Malhotra, such a goal -- along with both colleges’ five-year strategic plans presented by Hensrud in 2018 -- will require a candidate who can pursue these priorities on behalf of students, staff and surrounding communities. This sentiment remains as the search for BSU and NTC’s next president is underway.

More information on the 2018-2023 strategic plans for BSU and NTC can be found at www.bemidjistate.edu and www.ntcmn.edu.