The search committee working to find a replacement for University of Montana President George Dennison, who intended to retire on Aug. 15, announced Thursday it won't meet that deadline.

Instead, the committee will hold off inviting finalists to campus for interviews until after school resumes in the fall.

"The committee unanimously felt it made the most sense to have the campus interviews when students and faculty and staff are all present and accounted for," said Clayton Christianson, chairman of the Montana Board of Regents.

Dennison selected Aug. 15 as his retirement date because it's exactly 20 years to the day that he took over as UM's president.

But when the longtime leader first announced plans to retire, he said he would stay on until a replacement could assume the position.

About 40 people applied for UM's top job. The application deadline was May 19. The committee narrowed the pool of applicants and called references, and is in the process of inviting fewer than 10 candidates to interview privately.

"There's a fair amount of logistical work that needs to be done," Christianson said.

The committee will then select between one and four finalists, likely at a meeting held the beginning of August. Campus interviews will be scheduled at the beginning of September. Finalists' names will be made available to the public at that point.

Meanwhile, Dennison will continue serving as president under his current contract, based on his existing $280,000 salary, until a replacement can assume the role. There is no target date to have Dennison's successor take over, Christianson said.

Reporter Chelsi Moy can be reached at 523-5260 or at


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