Commissioner of Higher Education Sheila Stearns visited Havre this morning as a part of a discussion between community members and a board made up of the commissioner, Montana State University President Waded Cruzado, Regent Lynn Hamilton and Interim MSU-Northern Chancellor Joe Callahan.
Today’s session consisted of two meetings, one to talk about higher education and the other to talk about replacing Stearns after she retires at the end of this year. The meeting is one part of a tour Stearns is making around the state to hear input from all of the communities that are affected by higher education.
Among the attendees this morning were county commissioners, Havre Public Schools trustee Curtis Smeby, Havre City Council member Janet Trethewey and regional economic development guru Tony Priete.
Lynn Hamilton, on replacing Stearns, said that it is a challenge to find a new manager for “a complex system that frequently feels like herding cats. ”
A firm has been selected for the nationwide search.
“One of the biggest challenges during the last search was finding someone that understands the structure of the Montana University System, ” Hamilton said, adding that Montana’s unique relationships between 4-year and 2-year institutions are now starting to draw the attention of other states.
A lot of the focus of the meeting centered on what the community can do to participate in the search and commending the community on what it has done to support the university system in the past.
Stearns plans on leaving her position in May or June of next year, by which time the Board of Regents should have lined up a replacement. Her 9-year term as commissioner began 2003.