MnSCU board needs to stop micromanaging the system The selection of a new chancellor gives the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) a fresh start. Board members should make the most of it.
James McCormick brings a wealth of experience to the job, which becomes his in July. For the past 17 years he has served as chancellor for a similar network of colleges in Pennsylvania.
But it wasn't just McCormick's experience that made him stand out among the other candidates for the position. McCormick impressed Minnesotans by making his own two-day tour of MnSCU campuses before the formal interviews began. And he scored points with his impressive knowledge of the system's needs and his promises of openness with media, candor with the board and service to students.
McCormick's success, however, will depend largely on how the board operates. Thus far, the MnSCU chancellorship has become a hot seat with one short-term administrator after another filling the post.
There's little doubt that feuding by the board's trustees has had a debilitating impact throughout the system. A state audit released in August indicated that many of MnSCU's problems stem from poor relations among the board of trustees, the system's chancellor and its 35 school presidents. As an example, the trustees' decision to replace Chancellor Morris Anderson was made without consulting school presidents, creating further turmoil in the system.
To his credit, Anderson has stayed on the job until a replacement could be found even though it has made his position -- as a lame-duck administrator -- even more challenging.
With a new chancellor ready to assume the helm in July, it's time for trustees to get their act in order. They need to stop trying to micromanage the system and give the new chancellor the freedom he needs to lead MnSCU. They also must set aside petty differences and focus on the common good for Minnesota's state colleges and universities.
McCormick's selection as chancellor is a good start -- he was the clear favorite of campus presidents who witnessed the final day of interviews. Now it's up to the board to do its part by providing the support McCormick needs to do the job once it becomes his.
--The Daily Journal of International Falls
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