Jasinski graduation

In a Missourian file photo, Northwest President John Jasinski gives the commencement address at the University's belated graduation ceremony in August 2020. Jasinski, who has served as president since 2009, withdrew his candidacy earlier this month from a shortlist of finalists to be the next president at Minnesota State University-Mankato. 

Northwest President John Jasinski, who was among five finalists to replace the outgoing president at Minnesota State University-Mankato, will likely stay put in Maryville for the next academic year. The Minnesota State Board of Trustees on Wednesday tabbed Edward Inch, a provost and vice president of academic affairs at California State University, as the next leader of MSU-Mankato. 

Though Jasinski was listed along with three other finalists on Mankato’s presidential search webpage, Northwest Communication Manager Mark Hornickel said in an email to the Missourian that Jasinski withdrew his candidacy from consideration in early March. Though Mankato noted on its webpage that finalist Sandra Haynes withdrew her candidacy, it made no such designation for Jasinski. 

Jasinski’s withdrawal and the appointment of Inch — who will replace Mankato’s longtime president Richard Davenport — indicates Jasinski will remain at Northwest, where he has served as president since 2009. The decision for MSU came after a monthslong nationwide search, which dwindled 72 initial candidates down to five finalists, which included Jasinski, Inch, Haynes, Debra Larson, of California State-Chico and Mrinal Mugdh Varma, of Auburn University. 

“It is appropriate for me to explore new horizons at this time as I am quite optimistic about where Northwest is at in its life cycle,” Jasinski said in a statement in February, when he was first announced as a finalist for the Mankato gig. “We continue to ‘bring it’ and disrupt from a position of strength. ... Our core competencies of being safe, trusted, invested and resourceful are hallmarks, and our brand is as strong as ever.”

It’s unclear why Jasinski withdrew his candidacy. He participated in a virtual candidate forum for an audience of Mankato students, staff and stakeholders in early February, where he indicated the time was right for him to depart Northwest as the University concludes a 7-year fundraising campaign. In an email, Hornickel said there was “no reason” for Jasinski's withdrawal. 

MSU’s human resources committee, chaired by Trustee Michael Vekich, voted unanimously to appoint Inch after the California State vice president was recommended by Devinder Malhotra, the system’s chancellor who helped lead the search process. In an entirely-virtual committee meeting, Malhotra said his recommendation came after several months of research, rounds of interviews, and a background check on each finalist. 

Before the board voted on Inch’s appointment, MSU Trustee Cheryl Tefer, who helped conduct interviews in the search process, said the final decision was made between two standout candidates, but she did not identify which finalist beside Inch was in the final running. Echoing Tefer’s comments, Trustee Dawn Erlandson noted Inch’s involvement with CSU's 23-campus system. 

“We had a great slate of finalists; they were all very impressive,” Erlandson said. “We were fortunate to have them seeking this position. I’m excited to see what we can learn from the Cal State system. They’re doing a lot of things right in California.” 

In February, Jasinski’s potential departure was near front-of-mind for Northwest’s Board of Regents Chair John Moore, who said the Board likely would have named an in-house interim replacement if Jasinski was tabbed to lead Mankato. 

Northwest’s Board then was short two members, which Moore said could be a “complicating factor” in identifying the University’s next president. In the month since, Gov. Mike Parson named two appointees to the Board and Jasinski’s departure is no longer imminent — a series of developments that will largely return the University’s administrative operations to normal. 


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