Armacost will replace former president Mark Kennedy.
A former brigadier general and retired dean at the Air Force Academy will be the next president at the University of North Dakota, the state Board of Higher Education announced Tuesday.
Andrew Armacost served more than 30 years on active duty and spent 20 years both a professor and executive at the Air Force Academy, including stints as dean of faculty and chief academic officer.
Armacost is the 13th president of the university, all of them men. He replaces Mark Kennedy, a former Minnesota congressman who earlier this year was named president at the University of Colorado.
The other finalists were Laurie Stenberg Nichols, the former president at University of Wyoming and the first woman named to that post, and David Rosowsky, longtime professor of civil engineering and former provost at the University of Vermont. The board had final interviews with all three candidates Tuesday morning.
The University of North Dakota is the state's oldest and largest university and one of two research institutions in the state, along with North Dakota State University. Based in liberal arts, UND houses the medical and law schools as well as a highly regarded aerospace sciences program that has turned much of its attention toward developing unmanned systems. The university's enrollment for the 2019 fall semester was 13,581, about 400 students more than NDSU.
Among the challenges Armacost will face include poor employee morale in the midst of budget cuts and academic changes; trying to improve student retention and graduation rates; attracting more doctoral students to energize and bolster research capabilities; collaborating more with North Dakota State University on research to avoid duplication; advancing long-distance and online education and adapting to new teaching methods; addressing a lack of diversity and inclusion on campus; and dealing with a difficult transition to Division I athletics at a school known for big-time hockey.
As a member of the Air Force Academy's senior leadership council, Armacost was part of the team that guided an annual operating budget of more than $500 million and a capital improvement portfolio of nearly $1 billion. The Academy's sponsored research program of more than $50 million annually makes it the nation's top-funded research program among undergraduate schools.
Higher ed board members say Armacost supports shared governance, academic freedom, inclusion, student growth, and applied learning and research.
One of Armacost's assignments in the Air Force was as the chief analyst at Air Force Space Command and as a program manager for systems supporting the intelligence community and the White House. He is the second executive in the North Dakota University System with an extensive military background. Chancellor Mark Hagerott became a leading cybersecurity expert and professor with the Navy.
Armacost will begin his new job after negotiations are complete, according to a statement by the university system.