U of M chooses Ettinger as its interim president

Published 6:24 pm Monday, May 8, 2023

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The University of Minnesota Board of Regents selected the former Hormel Foods Corps. CEO, Jeff Ettinger, as its interim president.

The decision followed a day-long meeting Monday that featured public interviews with the four finalists and extensive discussion.

Ettinger will fill the position following the departure of President Joan Gabel this summer, who is leaving the position next month to take over as chancellor at the University of Pittsburgh.

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“Our Board was impressed by the number and quality of candidates who expressed interest in the interim president position. Jeff emerged from that impressive group and we believe the experience and skills that stood out will make for an effective interim leader of our University,” said Board Chair Janie Mayeron. “The U of M excels because of our exceptional students, brilliant faculty and talented staff. We have strong and steady senior leaders supporting them throughout each of our five campuses and I‘m confident Jeff’s leadership will broaden support for the University and build upon our strengths as we stay focused on the University’s goals.”

Ettinger currently serves as the chair of the Hormel Foundation Board of Directors, one of Minnesota’s largest community foundations and grant makers. Previously, he was the chief executive officer of the Hormel Foods Corporation in Austin, Minn. from 2005 to 2016. He ascended to CEO after 16 years with the company in roles including corporate attorney, treasurer and president of Jennie-O Turkey Store, Inc., in Willmar, Minn.

“My family and I have a multi-generational connection to the University of Minnesota and it’s the honor of my lifetime to be chosen for this position and build on that legacy,” Ettinger said in a press release Monday. “I want to express my gratitude to the Board of Regents for their confidence in me and my ability to lead this amazing research university during this critical time in its history. I cannot wait to get started and to contribute everything I can in the months ahead to advancing the University of Minnesota, its mission and its service to its students and the state.”

Monday’s selection of an interim president ended a thorough but expeditious search process that spanned four special meetings of the Board. After establishing criteria and a position description for an interim president and publicly calling for candidates, the Board received 21 applications for the position. 

Following review and discussion of the candidate pool, the Board chose four finalists to interview. The other three finalists were Myron Frans, senior vice president for Finance and Operations at the University of Minnesota; Mary Holz-Clause, chancellor of the University of Minnesota Crookston; and E. Thomas Sullivan, president emeritus and professor of Law and Political Science at The University of Vermont and former provost and senior vice president at the University of Minnesota.

Ettinger will serve as interim president for up to one year while the Board of Regents undertakes a national search for the U of M’s 18th president. Additional details about that process will be discussed and advanced by the Board in the coming weeks.

The Board of Regents is scheduled to meet next on May 11-12 for its regular meetings. Visit regents.umn.edu.