Mark R. Kennedy, president of the University of North Dakota, is slated to become the next president of the University of Colorado system, the Board of Regents announced Wednesday.

The regents named Kennedy, 61, as the sole finalist to replace the retiring Bruce Benson.

“A proven leader with a diverse set of skills and experiences in higher education, government and business,” is how board chair Sue Sharkey described Kennedy in a news release.

The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs will be Kennedy’s first campus visit, which is scheduled for April 23.

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It will be a “full day” on the local campus, said UCCS spokesman Jared Verner, as Kennedy will meet with Chancellor Venkat Reddy, governance groups such as the faculty assembly, the staff association and the student government association. Kennedy also will be take a campus tour and be featured in a public open session, Verner said.

Kennedy said in a statement that he’s honored to be the finalist for the CU presidency and appreciates the confidence of the board.

The regents hired Wheless Partners to conduct a national search at a flat fee of $99,000 plus associated expenses, which system spokesman Ken McConnelogue said are still being calculated. A search committee consisting of representatives from the four campuses — along with alumni, donors and the public — considered about 30 viable candidates, then narrowed the field to 10, McConnellogue said.

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The regents interviewed six applicants and unanimously agreed to name Kennedy as the only finalist in line to replace Benson, who announced last summer that he would retire from CU after 11 years of leading the four-campus system.

Under Colorado law, a finalist for the position must be made public at least two weeks before being named president.

Kennedy served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Minnesota from 2001 to 2007.

Before Congress, he held leadership positions with companies that became Macy’s and General Mills.

His academic career includes teaching and research at several top universities. He also directed the Graduate School of Political Management at George Washington University.

Kennedy said in a statement that he and his wife, Debbie, are first-generation college graduates, “so we are passionate about the power of a college degree to positively change the lives of students, their families and their communities.”

Before visiting UCCS, Kennedy will meet with system administration and officials from the CU Foundation on April 22.

On April 24, he will be at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus, on April 25 at CU Denver and wrap up with CU Boulder on April 26.

Contact the writer: 719-476-1656

Contact the writer: 719-476-1656.

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