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Faculty Spokesman Optimistic About New UM President

University of Montana's Main Hall.
Josh Burnham
Montana Public Radio
University of Montana's Main Hall

A faculty spokesman says he’s optimistic about the new University of Montana President.

Late this afternoon Seth Bodnar was named to the post and will take office, starting January first.

Bodnar is a Rhodes scholar with two masters degrees from Oxford University and currently an executive at General Electric. He is a West Point Graduate who also taught there and was chosen over three other finalists.

Lee Banville, the University Faculty Association’s spokesman, says the union is optimistic and this could be a new era for UM.

"I think what will become really apparent very quickly is how deep is that commitment to being transparent about decision making," Banville said. "Will he start by tackling some of the budget issues the university faces by turning inward, or opening up the process and bringing more people to the table so these decisions can be made more in the open?"

Bodnar has the least academic experience among the four finalists for UM’s presidency. Banville says that’s a concern for some faculty, but that he can counter it by surrounding himself with a strong team.

"If that turns out to be the case I think what we might get is a mix of new management thinking with established academic traditions, which could be an exciting moment," Banville said. "But I think he also needs to follow through with that commitment to openness and working with people in areas where he’s not as familiar, because an academic institution is very different from a corporation."

Bodnar inherits a university that has seen declining enrollment since 2010, and is dealing with budgeting and personnel challenges as a result.

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