GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- The State Board of Higher Education today named the Hon. Mark Kennedy as the next president of the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, North Dakota. Kennedy currently serves as a professor of political management and director of the Graduate School of Political Management at The George Washington University, Washington, D.C.
"I am honored and humbled to serve as the next president of UND. It is important to have quality education for students and research that impacts our community, state and nation. As a leader, I will be collaborative, accessible and seek input from all constituents to connect and have a shared vision for UND. We are focused on the future," said Kennedy.
He said North Dakota's universities and colleges are assets for the state. "I think we have a strong system in the state. All elements of the North Dakota University System need to be working together to ensure North Dakota stays in the lead. In my time on campus, I have been impressed with the focus on student success," said Kennedy.
The search for the next UND president began mid-August after Dr. Robert Kelley announced his upcoming retirement.
"It's obvious from the careful deliberations that the Board had a difficult decision to make - and for all the right reasons," said Kathy Neset, chair of the State Board of Higher Education. "We had three very strong candidates, all good leaders, all people that are student centric and understand the value of higher education in making North Dakota strong. We made the best decision for UND at this time, and we are excited about the possibilities for the students, the university and the whole system. I want to thank the presidential search committee for all of the time and effort that was spent to ensure that we found the best fit for the UND community. The committee always kept in mind what was best for UND and with that, what was best for the students. I'd also like to thank Interim President Ed Schafer for his leadership of UND, especially as we have faced budget reductions across the board in higher education."
The Presidential Search Committee was co-chaired by Dr. Hesham El-Rewini and Grant Shaft, who led the effort to interview semifinalists and forward its three recommendations for the position to the Board for final interviews.
"Thank you to all of the applicants that put the time and effort into the search process and were willing to put themselves under the microscope. I also thank all of the stakeholders that made the process inclusive and thorough, especially the committee members, as well as the NDUS and UND staff that were integral to the success of the search. Together this group helped shape the future of our university," said El-Rewini. "The committee was impressed by Kennedy's commitment to higher education and I know he will do an excellent job leading the university."
Kennedy is the Founder and Chairman of the Economic Club of Minnesota and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Economic Club of Washington and the Chatham House in London. He is also affiliated with GWU's Elliott School of International Affairs' Institute for International Economic Policy.
Kennedy served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives (R-Minn.) from 2001 to 2007 and established a reputation for bipartisanship. He served as a presidentially appointed trade advisor under both George W. Bush and Barack Obama. In business, he was senior vice president and treasurer of Macy's, helped Pillsbury acquire Häagen Dazs and expand its markets around the world, and worked in a global role with Accenture.
Kennedy will take over as the 12th president of UND no later than July 1, 2016. He will succeed Dr. Robert Kelley who retired Jan. 14, 2016. Schafer is currently serving as interim president.