‘A true leader’ is choice to guide UMDA southern university official with a background in theater will be the University of Minnesota Duluth’s ninth campus leader.
By: Jana Hollingsworth, Duluth News Tribune
A southern university official with a background in theater will be the University of Minnesota Duluth’s ninth campus leader.
Lendley “Lynn” Black was appointed by U of M President Robert Bruininks on Tuesday, pending Board of Regents approval on Friday.
“Dr. Black’s candidacy for this position received strong support from the Duluth and university communities,” Bruininks said in a message to UMD students, faculty and staff. “I strongly believe he has the qualifications and leadership style to drive the unique academic needs of the campus.”
Black will replace Chancellor Kathryn A. Martin, also a
theater academic, who will retire July 31. Black begins Aug. 1.
“Both my wife and I are thrilled to be joining the UMD community as well as … the city of Duluth,” Black said Tuesday. “We were incredibly impressed with the people we met. The university has a very distinguished past and present, and I think that Chancellor Martin and faculty and staff have really positioned UMD to take another huge step forward.”
Black most recently has served as provost and vice president of academic affairs at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Ga., a campus of 22,300 students. He also has been dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Emporia State University in Kansas.
“Lynn is a true academic leader,” said Kennesaw State President Daniel Papp. “Kennesaw State’s loss is U of M Duluth’s gain.”
Daniel Street, president emeritus of the Student Government Association at Kennesaw State, also praised Black.
"Dr. Black has been highly accessible to students throughout his term as provost at Kennesaw State University," Street said in an e-mail to the News Tribune. "He's been very willing to meet with SGA as necessary when we have questions about academics at the University."
Black began his academic career in theater, teaching theater history, performance classes and directing. UMD’s theater program is one reason he was interested in coming to Duluth. He’s married to Connie Black, and has three grown children and two grandchildren. He’s interested in arts and several sports and attends events regularly, and he likes to hike, raft and play golf. Black grew up in Memphis, Tenn., but has lived in cold climates.
A national search took place for chancellor candidates, and there was input from the community and business and civic leaders, said Vince Magnuson, co-chairman of the search committee and vice chancellor of academic administration at UMD. There were two finalists for the position — Belinda McCarthy, provost of Missouri State University in Springfield and chancellor of its Mountain Grove campus, and Black.
“He has a strong record of accomplishments,” Magnuson said of Black. “We think he has the capability of leading UMD forward at this point in time.”
Mayor Don Ness met with Black during the search process. He was impressed with his commitment to working with local businesses and engaging the community, along with his experience with small to mid-size schools.
“I think he fully understands how to advocate for the coordinate campus in a larger system,” Ness said.
In a recent interview with the News Tribune, Black cited his theater roots as a reason for his success.
“I think I am a good listener and like to work (with) people,” he said. “Part of this comes out of my work with theater. For a theater director to be successful, you need to be able to articulate a collective vision. University administration has some of the same qualities to it, because it’s about understanding the various roles staff members and faculty play, and valuing those roles.”
Black plans to move to Duluth in July. He said he read about the new DECC arena Tuesday and was excited to see a hockey game.
“I’m ready to get to work and get to know faculty and staff and students,” he said, noting a collaborative planning effort was one of the first things he expected to do to “chart a new course for the institution.”