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Regents Stop Looking for DSU President, Make Borofsky Permanent

Last updated on 2014.08.15

Well, that's peculiar: after averring repeatedly that interim Dakota State University president David B. Borofsky was not a candidate for the permanent leadership position, the Board of Regents held a special meeting today to give Borofsky the permanent appointment.

Let's review. January 26, 2012:

[Regents president Kathryn] Johnson said the regents worked with the Registry for College and University Presidents, a national search firm that specializes in identifying candidates for transitional interim leadership roles. Borofsky will not be a candidate for the permanent president's position at Dakota State [SDBOR press release, 2012.01.26].

May 17, 2012:

Douglas Knowlton left in February to take a higher education position in Minnesota, after serving eight years as DSU's president. David B. Borofsky is serving as interim president at Dakota State and is not a candidate for the permanent position [DSU press release, 2012.05.17].

October 22, 2012:

Initially the Regents said Borofsky would not be a candidate for the permanent position, but Johnson said the board reconsidered because of a "groundswell of support from the campus and community" [Sarah Reinecke, "David Borofsky Named President of Dakota State University," that Sioux Falls paper, 2012.10.22].

Groundswell? Here's the local Tweet that alerted me to Borofsky's appointment:

(That Twitter account isn't me, I promise.)

What could explain this about face? Johnson's assertion is not prima facie absurd. However, the Regents appointed the presidential search committee last May. They've had five months to take applications. Did no one good apply? Did no one apply? With several months left before the original transition deadline of mid-2013, did the search committee become convinced that no one else worth looking at was going to apply, and that what we've got is the best we'll get?

That's not impossible: universities nationwide are seeing so much administrative turnover that open positions may outnumber candidates.

"Because demand exceeds the supply of traditional candidates, we see search committees rethinking what is "acceptable" and what is best for their own institutions," said Jan Greenwood, an executive search consultant with the form Greenwood/Asher & Associates who worked with the University of Arizona last year and is working with the University of Florida this year [Kevin Kiley, "Searching for an Answer," Inside Higher Ed, October 4, 2012].

So it is entirely possible that, after swearing they would not consider him as a candidate, our Regents now see as "acceptable" an interim candidate whose last school (as I reported in January) "made deceptive or otherwise questionable statements to G.A.O.'s undercover applicants" and profited heftily from students who were left with huge loans and worthless diplomas.

But as the Madison Daily Leader reports, Borofsky has raised lots of money and joined lots of local clubs. So sit down, search committee. Your work, if you had any to do, is done.


  1. grudznick 2012.10.22

    He sounds like a nice man but you sound kind of bitter about it, Mr. H. Were you hoping to move back to Madison and be picked? I think you would be a good University president. You could control teacher salaries and rule the economy of Madison and I bet you'd still have time to be a blogger.

  2. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.10.22

    Silly Grudz. No bitterness here. Dr. Borofsky and I had a perfectly pleasant and informative conversation last summer about the Main Street program and economic development. That has nothing to do with the questions raised by his past administrative experience at Westwood and the Regents' about-face with plenty of time to continue a candidate search.

  3. grudznick 2012.10.22

    I have to wonder why we need to have so many presidents. They are like the fat cat administrators of the college world with fancy reserved parking spaces and bloated salaries that take money away from good teachers. We should have 8 maybe 12 superintendents over the whole state and save some big bucks. Cut the schools some more or tell them to spend it on teacher salaries.

    One superintendent for Rapid and south to Olerichs. One for Piedmont north to Buffalo west to Wall. One for Philip, Midland, Pierre, Murdo, Miller, etc. Mobridge too. One for Sioux Falls. Just One for All Of Sioux Falls! Then One for the Yankton Springfield Menno etc area. One for Chamberlain and south. Maybe 2 for up in the north east divided up however those goofy counties are set up. That's 9. You might find another spot for One and that's 10. 10 fatcats. Not 200.

    Next, One President for School of Mines and Black Hills and USD. One President for Northern State Teacher's College and Madison and SDSU.

  4. JoeBoo 2012.10.22

    I agree with the not needing so many Presidents especially what they make plus a vehicle and a house. similar with Superintendents I don't know about having as few as you suggest but you could certainly get by with fewer. However sharing things among small towns isn't quite as easy as large town folk think it is.

    As far as the President search. I don't have a problem with the guy, I hadn't heard anything bad, (or good), but it just seems odd that they would remove the interim tag when saying he wasn't even a candidate when they hired him. Seems like at the least they could say he was a candidate and then interview candidates (him being one). IDK it just seems odd, whether you like the guy or not.

  5. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.10.23

    Were there interviews? Was there any comparison with other candidates?

  6. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.10.23

    You know, Grudz, Wyoming has one public university offering four-year and graduate programs and number of two-year community colleges. South Dakota has six public universities, each with an executive making more than twice the salary of the governor. Care to consolidate administration?

  7. John Hess 2012.10.23

    It's my guess they want the schools to be run more like a business and they liked what they saw.

  8. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.10.23

    It still seems like a rather drastic change of direction. And if it is a choice of the all-business mindset as embodied by the practices of Borofsky's former institution, we should worry.

  9. John Hess 2012.10.23

    Yes, but you're judging him by his former employer, that he left. It could be a middle ground that is tolerable and necessary.

  10. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.10.23

    Could be, John. But it would be easier to overlook that former employer's misdeeds if we were talking about hiring a professor. Borofsky was provost and chief academic officer at Westwood, a position perhaps equivalent to DSU's VP Academic, Dr. Wittmayer. Not quite captain, but definitely not ensign on a ship that had some serious problems. Has Borofsky taken any responsibility for or demonstrated his separation from the bad practices at Westwood?

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