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Furness withdraws as candidate for interim ND chancellor

FARGO -- Former Fargo Mayor Bruce Furness has taken himself out of the running for interim chancellor of the North Dakota University System.

In an email Thursday to the State Board of Higher Education, Furness asked to be removed from the candidate pool.

After the board narrowed the pool of 16 applicants, Furness was slated to be interviewed Monday along with two other finalists -- Larry Skogen, acting NDUS chancellor, and Shane Goettle, a former North Dakota commerce commissioner.

Furness said the potential timeframe for the position would be too long for him. He wasn't aware of how long the system would need an interim chancellor when he applied.

"I hadn't fully realized how long it could potentially take," he said.

The University System has said the interim chancellor will need to serve at least until the outcome of a November 2014 ballot measure to abolish the chancellor's position and the State Board of Higher Education is known.

Voters will decide if a full-time three-person board of commissioners appointed by the governor should replace the state's current system.

If the measure fails, the board will search for and hire a more permanent chancellor.

If it passes, the interim chancellor could end up working until the new commission takes over on July 1, 2015. Furness said that was too long.

He said he wanted to be fair to the board and the other candidates by withdrawing in advance of the second-round interviews on Monday.

Linda Donlin, a University System spokeswoman, said the board does not plan to reconsider any of the other applicants for interviews Monday in light of Furness' announcement.

In a statement, state board President Kirsten Diederich thanked Furness for his interest in the position and support of the University System, and said she looked forward to interviews with the remaining candidates.

The two candidates will be interviewed during a special board meeting in Bismarck.

The state board plans to appoint the interim chancellor by Sept. 25.