McMullen Hall on the MSUB campus

CASEY PAGE, Gazette Staff

The desire for longevity in the future chancellor at Montana State University Billings has been a driving issue behind the search so far.

It was so in the latest round of meetings on Friday, when university backers had their first chance to meet the 18-member search committee as a group.

At City College, committee chair and Deputy Commissioner of Higher Education John Cech led the program alongside Montana State University President Waded Cruzado. The schedule included meetings with students, administrators, staff and business representatives.

As MSUB searches for a chancellor for the second time in three years, the longevity issue persists.

"We just hope that if it's a good fit, then they will stay," said Susan Gilbertz, MSUB professor and chair of the Academic Senate, which represents faculty.

Cruzado, who oversees MSUB in the university system, said that identifying someone who will stick around is important to the process. 

She characterized the position as a partner, brushing away the idea that an MSUB chancellor would lack adequate autonomy as a subordinate to MSU.

"Someone who shows loyalty to this place — in good times and bad," Cruzado said.

During a noon meeting with business representatives, talk also centered on industry relationships. Cech noted that universities will play a role in replacing an aging workforce. In Montana, he said 24 percent of that force will retire in the next decade.

Billings Clinic Foundation President Jim Duncan said that at their Billings and satellite facilities, there are increasing job openings. He said that he wants to see MSUB, and a potential chancellor, derive university strategies from Billings workers.

"I think the chancellor has to be ingrained in the business community at every level," he said.


General Assignment Reporter

Reporter for The Billings Gazette.