News Release

Rebecca Cunningham selected as next president of the University of Minnesota

Portrait of Rebecca Cunningham
Dr. Rebecca Cunningham

The University of Minnesota Board of Regents selected Dr. Rebecca Cunningham as the 18th President of the University of Minnesota System at a special meeting today. The Board chose Cunningham following a thorough and public search that engaged thousands of students, faculty and staff in listening sessions and public forums on all five U of M campuses during the past weeks. 

“I want to congratulate Rebecca and reiterate how excited my Board colleagues and I are to welcome her to Minnesota. She will work closely with Interim President Jeff Ettinger in the months ahead as she prepares to be inaugurated as the U of M’s next president this summer,” said Board Chair Janie Mayeron. “Rebecca’s strong leadership and relationship-building skills stood out throughout this process. Her unique experiences and perspectives will make her an outstanding president, but we also know she’s joining a university with a strong supporting team of leaders and positive momentum toward the future. We are confident she will help us build on the opportunities that lie ahead and maximize the positive impact the University delivers for Minnesota and beyond each and every day.”

Cunningham currently serves as the vice president for research and innovation at the University of Michigan, where she is responsible for fostering excellence and upholding the institution’s public mission in research, scholarship and creative practice across three campuses. During her leadership tenure, U-M has expanded its research volume to a record $1.86 billion annually as Cunningham led the design and implementation of the first comprehensive review of the U-M research, scholarship and creative practice enterprise.

A faculty member in the U-M Schools of Public Health and Medicine since 1999, Cunningham previously served as the associate vice president for research-health sciences, where she oversaw research faculty affairs and partnered with colleagues across disciplines to facilitate and energize the University’s research agenda. Cunningham served in various leadership positions earlier in her career, including as associate chair of emergency medicine and director of the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-sponsored Injury Prevention Center at the University of Michigan. As a researcher, Cunningham has earned continuous federal research funding for more than 25 years as a principal investigator and is a member of the National Academy of Medicine.

“It’s the thrill of a lifetime to be appointed the next president of the University of Minnesota. I want to thank the Board of Regents for this opportunity and the trust they are placing in me to advance the U of M’s mission and incredible legacy,” said Cunningham. “I’m looking forward to building a partnership with Interim President Ettinger over the next four months to ensure a smooth transition. I’m eager to meet with U of M students, who are at the heart of the University’s teaching mission. I’m excited to meet the world-class faculty and staff that make the University a research and outreach powerhouse. And lastly, I look forward to meeting Minnesotans statewide who benefit from all the University of Minnesota does to improve our lives.”

The Board’s appointment of Cunningham on Monday afternoon concluded an extensive, nationwide presidential search that was built on broad public and campus engagement. The engagement began with numerous listening sessions last fall, hosted by the 24-member Presidential Search Advisory Committee, to define the position description and provide input on the qualities and experiences an ideal candidate would bring to the job. The advisory committee evaluated 46 talented applicants, narrowing the candidate pool to 12 following a round of interviews. From that group, the advisory committee unanimously recommended four lead candidates to the full Board for consideration. 

Ultimately, the Board named three public finalists who embarked on whirlwind tours of the state, participating in a total of 15 public forums and 15 open houses, as well as many other engagements, over a 10-day period. Combined, the candidates logged more than 2,700 miles across Minnesota to visit each U of M campus. Throughout the search, the Board has welcomed feedback at in-person events and electronically. All input was shared directly with Regents for their consideration in advance of public, live-streamed interviews earlier today.
The other publicly named finalists were Dr. James Holloway, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at the University of New Mexico, and Dr. Laura Bloomberg, president at Cleveland State University.

Cunningham’s appointment as president-designate clears the way for the Board Chair to negotiate a contract, pending Board of Regents approval this spring. Ettinger will remain in his role as U of M interim president through June 30, as was planned when the Board appointed him in May 2023. Cunningham is expected to begin as the University of Minnesota’s 18th president on July 1, 2024.

Media Contacts

Andria Waclawski

University Public Relations