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About 40 applicants from around the world want to be the next president of the University of Montana.

“It’s a good, strong pool,” said Clayton Christian, chair of the presidential search committee. “It’s all that we hoped for.”

May 19 was the deadline to submit applications.

UM President George Dennison is scheduled to retire Aug. 15 after 20 years. However, it’s possible Dennison will stay on after that date, if his successor is not yet ready to assume the job.

Christian acknowledged the possibility of not having a new president on campus by mid-August. While the search is on schedule, he said, it boils down to when the committee can schedule candidate visits to Missoula.

The 20-member presidential search committee met May 21 and identified a group of top applicants. The committee will contact the applicants’ references in the coming weeks and narrow the pool further.

The committee meets next on June 2 in Butte. Once candidates are fully vetted, several will be invited to interview with the committee. From there, the committee will identify between one and four finalists to visit UM, Christian said. Finalists’ names will be released to the public.

In a recent search for a new president at Montana State University, the committee selected three finalists.

The regents hired a consulting firm based in Washington, D.C., to help in the search.

Christian couldn’t say how many of the applicants are women or people of an ethnic minority because the consulting firm identifies each applicant by a number. However, the consulting firm assured the committee that the pool is robust and diverse, he said.

Also, Christian wouldn’t indicate whether there were any local candidates, but did say there are both national and international applicants.

 Dennison is the longest-serving president in UM history, with 20 years on the job.

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