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Minnesota State names three finalists for chancellor

Ricardo Azziz, Van Ton-Quinlivan and Neal Cohen. Courtesy photos

MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota's largest higher education system has named three finalists for chancellor, a year after trustees passed on every candidate from the initial search.

The finalists are scheduled to interview next week with Minnesota State trustees, college and university presidents and members of the chancellor's cabinet. They also will participate in a forum open to employees and students Feb. 28.

The candidates are:

• Ricardo Azziz, chief officer for academic health and hospital affairs for the State University of New York (SUNY) system. He previously was founding president of Georgia Regents University (now Augusta University) from 2012 to 2015. Azziz holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez, two master's degrees from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and an MD from the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine.

• Neal Cohen, executive vice president and chief financial officer of the aerospace and defense company Orbital ATK from 2012 to 2015. Previously, he was president and chief operating officer for Laureate Education from 2008 to 2011. Before that, he had a long career with Northwest Airlines. He holds bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Chicago.

• Van Ton-Quinlivan, executive vice chancellor of workforce and digital futures for the 114 California Community Colleges. She previously was director of workforce and economic development at Pacific Gas & Electric. She also taught at DeAnza College in California. She holds a bachelor's degree from Georgetown University and dual master's degrees from Stanford University.Steven Rosenstone was Minnesota State's last permanent chancellor, retiring in June.

After a national search producing three finalists, the board of trustees instead appointed the retired Devinder Malhotra as interim chancellor last February.

Trustees started their second search in September with the search firm Wheless Partners. They hope to have the new chancellor start Aug. 1.

Scott Peterson, Schwan's executive vice president and chief human resources officer, chaired the committee leading the latest search.

"We have been very pleased with the talented and diverse slate of candidates that were attracted to this critical role and we look forward to completing the search process," he said.