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10 apply for interim N.D. higher ed chancellor position

BISMARCK -- Former Commerce Department Commissioner Shane Goettle and nine others have applied to be interim chancellor of the North Dakota University System following embattled Chancellor Hamid Shirvani's contract buyout after less than one year.

The 10 applications were released Wednesday, showing a mix of candidates with ties to the state and several others from across the country.

State Board of Higher Education Vice President Kirsten Diederich, who will take over as president July 1, said she will lead the hiring process to pick the interim chancellor.

But that's on hold to allow Larry Skogen, the president of Bismarck State College who became acting chancellor Monday, to settle into the temporary position. His goal is to guide the University System out of the controversy that has plagued it for months, leading up to the board's June 3 vote to buy out Shirvani's contract.

"Larry has decided that it would probably be best if we gave him some time so that he could work with the system office a little bit and then also finish up the presidents' evaluations," Diederich said. "We're going to go through that first, and as I've mentioned in the past, we need to give him a little time to calm things down."

She said the "very tentative" plan is to resume the hiring process in late July. The final decision could be made in four weeks once that starts.

Diederich said the Association of Community College Trustees, a nonprofit that's helping with the search, has a preliminary plan that calls for the board to review applications in the first week.

The next week would be spent interviewing applicants, and the board would discuss the candidates during the third week before making an appointment the next week.

Diederich said many details still need to be finalized, including the length of time the interim chancellor will serve.

North Dakotans will vote in November 2014 on a constitutional amendment that would scrap the board and chancellor in favor of a three-member higher education commission to be appointed by the governor.

The applicants are:

-- Kendall Blanchard, now in his seventh year as president at Georgia Southwestern State University and finalist for the North Dakota chancellor position nine years ago.

-- Gordon Davies, who most recently was a senior adviser on the Lumina Foundation's "Making Opportunity Affordable" project to increase access to higher education.

-- Goettle, North Dakota's commerce commissioner from 2005 to 2010 and state director for Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., in 2011. Goettle now is the assistant city attorney for Minot and co-owner and director of JAG Gravel in western North Dakota.

-- Michael Hillman, North Dakota's vice chancellor of academic and student affairs since July 2003 and the previous vice chancellor of academic affairs.

-- Ruben Lackman, a 20-year teacher at Mandan High School who retired in 1999 and also taught classes at Bismarck State College and the University of Mary.

-- David Lee, a substitute teacher for Bismarck Public Schools from 2008 to 2012 and superintendent of Halliday (N.D.) Public School from 2006 to 2008.

-- Duane Pool, an affiliate faculty member at Colorado State University and adjunct faculty member at Bismarck State College who also taught economics at the University of Mary and Rasmussen College in Bismarck.

-- Michael Renk, who retired in January after 15 years as the vice president for administrative affairs at North Dakota State College of Science.

-- Henry "Bud" Wessman, chairman of the University of North Dakota School of Medicine's Department of Physical Therapy from 1967 to 1993 and appeals resolution consultant for Noridian Administrative Services since 2009.

-- Jack Young, owner of Roanoke, Ind., personal financial adviser company Trust Financial Solutions since 2006.