South Carolina provost poised to be next U of M president

Joan Gabel was named the sole finalist in the University of Minnesota's presidential search. Gabel is executive vice president for academic affairs and provost at the University of South Carolina. Courtesy of the University of South Carolina

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Updated: 10:11 p.m. | Posted: 5:29 p.m.

The Board of Regents named Joan Gabel as the sole finalist to become the next president of the University of Minnesota. She'll come to Minnesota for final interviews soon.

Gabel is executive vice president for academic affairs and provost at the University of South Carolina.

If hired, she would be the first female president of the U of M. She's expected to tour the state and be interviewed by the board next week.

"Provost Gabel has shown strong leadership at the University of South Carolina and her previous institutions, and the Presidential Search Advisory Committee strongly recommended her after in-depth analysis and a comparison of 67 total candidates," said Board of Regents Chair David McMillan in a press release.

In a statement, Gabel thanked the search committee and Regents.

"I am truly honored and humbled. I look forward to traveling to Minnesota next week to meet the University of Minnesota community and friends across the state so I can answer questions, learn from them, and discuss our collective vision for the future," Gabel said.

McMillan added that the process was not yet complete. The U of M and Board of Regents plans to "engage fully with Provost Gabel in multiple public settings," he said. "If at the end of the process the Board is confident she will succeed as our next president, it will vote to support her. If a vote is not successful, we will return to the pool to publicly interview additional candidates."

In the early part of the meeting Thursday, the board talked about three final candidates generally, without giving names. After the board voted, and called Gabel with the news, her name was made public.

Regent Abdul Omari says Gabel stood out.

"I would say she connected with every member of the 23 person committee, which is clearly hard to do, and was able to think about and talk about a way this university is already amazing, but then articulate how much better it can be," Omari said.

The U launched the search for a replacement for current president Eric Kaler earlier this year. Kaler announced in July he would step down in the summer of 2019. At that time, he planned to fill out the remainder of his contract, to 2020, in a fundraising role.

When Kaler announced his departure plans, Board of Regents chair David McMillan said the school would look for a candidate with a strong academic background and well as "a strong business sense," to deal with the likelihood of fewer state dollars.

The search process for Kaler's replacement involved two firms. The first, Storbeck/Pimentel and Associates, was fired by the university two months in after Michigan State University hired the firm to do its presidential search.

The university quickly hired AGB Search which expected to have the former president of the University of Iowa, the former president of Ohio University and a former dean from Texas Tech University lead the U president search.

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