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Utah Commissioner of Higher Education William Sederburg, one of two finalists for chancellor of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, will not be packing his bags for St. Paul.
In a 14-1 vote Wednesday, the Minnesota system's board chose the less-experienced Steven Rosenstone, vice president for scholarly and cultural affairs at the University of Minnesota, to lead the 32-institution system, which doesn't include the state flagship. The vote was taken after Rosenstone, 59, and Sederburg, 63, made public presentations to the board Tuesday and Wednesday.
Although both finalists are political-science scholars, they gave Minnesota trustees divergent approaches in addressing the challenges facing that state's system. In their presentations, Rosenstone focused on improving educational quality, while Sederburg promoted his success in building political support for higher education in Utah, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
But it was Rosenstone's passion for education and improving learning outcomes that helped win over Minnesota's trustees.
"I am excited that we have found a leader who is uniquely qualified for this position," said Scott Thiss, chairman of the trustees who oversee the Minnesota's colleges and universities, in a statement. "Dr. Rosenstone is a proven leader who brings the vision and breadth of skills and knowledge that we need to lead this system."
The decision means Utah regents won't be gearing up for their own search for a successor to Sederburg, known for his wisecracks and ability to connect with Utah's GOP-dominated Legislature.
"We'll be delighted to have him back on the job on Friday," said David Jordan, chairman of the Utah State Board of Regents.
That Sederburg was courting new employment just three years into his tenure as higher education commissioner is no cause for alarm, Jordan said.
"This was a great opportunity for him in his home state, where he has friends and family," Jordan said. "I'm not surprised that he made his name available. He should be flattered to be a finalist for a very large system in a large state."
Securing the job would have meant a big raise and more responsibility for Sederberg. The system runs seven state universities and 25 community and technical colleges on 54 campuses, serving 277,000 degree-seeking students and another 157,000 noncredit students.
Sederburg grew up in Minnesota and earned his bachelor's degree at one of its state universities.
Later he served as president of Michigan's Ferris State University from 1994 to 2003. He assumed the Utah commissioner's post in 2008 after successfully guiding Utah Valley's transition from a state college to a university while serving as the Orem school's president for five years.