By Tim Leeds
Montana State University-Northern Chancellor Mike Rao said today that he is a finalist for the position of president at Salisbury State University in Maryland.
Rao e-mailed students, faculty and staff yesterday at the university to let them know of his status. He said he decided to do so after asking advice of some faculty at the university.
"I made the choice that it was important to be continue my commitment to be open and honest with people," Rao said.
Dr. Korinne Tande, Dean and Chair Department of Education at MSU-Northern, said this was a continuation of Rao's attitude since he has been at Northern.
"His letting the campus know is consistent with his policy that people be open and honest with each other. Knowing Mike, I know he's concerned that it not hurt the campus," Tande said.
Rao is one of five finalists in the university's search, which began last summer following the resignation of Dr. William C. Merwin, a former Northern Montana College president. Merwin left Salisbury State to become president of Florida Gulf Coast University.
The other four finalists are: Dr. Wilson B. Bradshaw, provost and vice president of academic affairs, Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania; Dr. Barbara S. Haskew, provost and vice president for academic affairs, Middle Tennessee State University; Dr. Samuel A. Kirkpatrick, senior fellow, American Association of State Colleges and Universities; and Dr. Richard H. Wells, provost and vice president for academic affairs, Indiana State University.
Rao and the other four finalists have been selected from about 90 candidates, a representative of the university's public relations office said. The representative said the finalists will visit the university's campus to meet with constituent groups in the next three to four weeks. The top three finalists will then be selected and their names will be forwarded to the state's board of regents for final selection.
The representative said the final selection is expected to be announced by April. The starting date for the position is July 1.
Since September, Dr. Joel Jones, former president of Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo., has served as interim president at Salisbury State, a representative of Salisbury's public relations office said. Joel Jones will continue in that position through the end of the spring semester.
Rao said he decided to continue pursuing the position after being counseled not to avoid such opportunities. He said he decided the position at Salisbury might be a good option, although he and his family enjoy being in Montana.
"We really love Montana and Montanans" Rao said. "I think the people here are as real as anyone I've known to be."
Rao said that this is simply a finalist position, not an offer for the presidency. He said he will go to the campus and meet the groups, and wait and see what happens.
Tande said she wishes Rao success whether he stays at MSU-Northern or accepts an offer elsewhere. She said even if Rao stays in Havre, she's sure there will be other offers.
"I don't expect it will be the last. He has skills I'm sure other campuses will recognize," she said
Salisbury State has more than 6,000 students enrolled in 30 undergraduate and eight graduate programs.
In its most recent review of public institutions, Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine ranked SSU among the top 10 percent nationally and U.S. News & World Report included SSU on its list of top 10 public regional universities in the North .