Indian American interim chancellor of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Devinder Malhotra March 2 was named the permanent chancellor by the MSCU board of trustees.
In naming Malhotra to the post, the trustees rejected three finalists, the Star Tribune reported.
It’s the second year in a row that the trustees have bypassed the finalists chosen in a national search and turned to Malhotra, the former interim president of Metropolitan State University, to head the system’s 30 two-year colleges and seven state universities, the report said.
“The board concluded that none of the three [finalists] were the right individual to serve as chancellor,” the trustees said in a statement.
Former airline executive Neal Cohen, university academic health official Dr. Ricardo Azziz, and California community colleges vice chancellor Van Ton-Quinlivan were the finalists whom the trustees rejected.
“Malhotra has accomplished much during his service as interim chancellor,” Michael Vekich, the board’s chairman, said in the statement. “He has brought a laser focus to student success, and he has reaffirmed our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion by fostering a culture in which we can have difficult conversations about critical issues.”
Last year, Malhotra agreed to step in as interim chancellor for one year after the board rejected the finalists chosen in the first yearlong search, the publication said.
Malhotra, 70, who retired as interim president of Metropolitan State in 2016 after over 40 years in academia, said he was “humbled and honored” to accept the permanent job.
“Higher education is facing some strong headwinds, but at the same time, rethinking our profession is also a very exciting opportunity,” he said, according to the report. “I would frankly admit to you I failed retirement very badly. So I am a little bit hesitant in trying it again.”
On the morning of March 2, the trustees approved a three-year contract for Malhotra. Officials did not disclose how much was spent on the search efforts, the report added.
“It was a very tough one to make, I’m sure, but Devinder is who we need in that leadership role at this point,” said Jim Grabowska, president of the Inter Faculty Organization, which represents instructors at Minnesota State’s four-year universities, according to the report.
Minnesota State College Faculty president Kevin Lindstrom said that the board did the right thing, the report said.
“Chancellor Malhotra has done wonders to build an environment of trust in the system,” he said.
Minnesota State serves more than 375,000 students a year on its 54 campuses.