4 Vie for Presidency: University president search comes down to four candidates

As Minnesota State University, Mankato President Richard Davenport wraps up his last few months serving the students, a  search committee is looking for the next President to help the university grow based on some key factors. 

Chief of Staff in MNSU’s President’s office Sheri Sargent discussed what the search process has looked like and how the transition will take place. 

“The decision will be made around mid-March and the new elect to take office July 1,” she said. “So within these next few months there are lots to take place.” 

Earlier this month, over the span of three days, each of the four candidates were able to Zoom in and be virtually interviewed for the position. Students, faculty, and search committee members listened to the candidates and asked questions. 

Questions highlighted in these interviews covered tuition rates, expanding the university’s international student population, increasing enrollment, and how each candidate would best fit in with MNSU and create a positive impact in the community.

When a decision is made it will be made public to the university and community. In the months following the decision and the new president taking office, the university’s President Office will help ensure that the transition between the presidents will be smooth.

Edward Inch

As stated by the MNSU website, Edward Inch is the first of the four finalists the University is looking into to fill this position. Inch once served as Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs for California State University, East Bay, as well as serving positions for California State University, Sacramento, Capital University in Ohio, and Pacific Lutheran University. 

John Jasinski

John Jasinski has served for numerous Universities as well, with positions ranging from President, Executive Vice President, Chief Academic and Operating Officer. Jasinski worked with Northwest Missouri State University and Northwood University, as well as numerous public K-12 education systems. 

Debra Larson

Debra Larson is another candidate who has served the California area while serving positions of Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at California State University, Chico, Dean of the College of Engineering at California Polytechnic State University, and President of Chico State Enterprises. Larson also has a long history with Northern Arizona University where she has served the roles as Associate Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, Associate Dean of the College of Engineering, Forestry, and Natural Sciences, and Department Chair.

Mrinal Mugdh Varma

The last candidate, Mrinal Mugdh Varma, has also served a variety of academic roles. In the past, he has been Provost and Senior vice Chancellor at Auburn University at Montgomery, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs and Deputy Chief Academic Officer at the University of Houston, and Director of Institutional Research and Planning at the University of Texas at Brownsville. 

Sargent said that, once a new President is selected and starts work, there will be many opportunities for students, faculty, community members and anyone else to meet and discuss key topics with them.

“We want the students and faculty to get to know the new President right away, so we will make sure they get the opportunity to do so. We also want to give the new President a chance to hear questions and concerns from the MNSU community,” Sargent stated.

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