About Dr. Connie J. Gores

Dr. Connie J. Gores became the ninth President of Southwest Minnesota State University in 2013. She is the first woman to serve in this role.

Dr. Gores has devoted her career to higher education and its ability to transform lives. A native of the Central Plains, she knows firsthand the transformative power of higher education. Making a difference and changing lives are the guiding tenets of her presidency at Southwest Minnesota State University.

She currently serves as Immediate Past-Chair of the Women’s Network Executive Council, a national committee of the American Council on Education (ACE). She is in her second year on the Executive Committee of the Leadership Council of Presidents in the Minnesota State system. Last April she was appointed to the NCAA Division II Presidents Council, the highest governance office. She also serves on the Board of the Minnesota Campus Compact, an organization that supports civic engagement, leadership and democratic renewal. She is a founding board member of the Jared P. Stene Student Leadership Scholarship Board.

In June 2017, Dr. Gores was an invited speaker (the sole presenter from the United States) at the Dialogue on Innovative Higher Education Strategies (DIES) Conference in Bonn, Germany. President Gores spoke on gender equality in higher education leadership and her presentation was entitled “Advancing Women Leaders in Higher Education.”

Her passion and commitment to leadership, particularly for women in higher education, make her an inspiring speaker on campus and around the country. Dr. Gores is a featured presenter at American Council on Education (ACE) National and Regional Leadership Forums on the topics of executive leadership, assessing student learning, campus crises, and succession planning. She has also taught a number of classes, including Introduction to Higher Education.

Drawing on her experience as a leader in crisis management, Dr. Gores wrote a chapter “Courage, Compassion, Communication” for the book Managing the Unthinkable: Crisis Preparation and Response for Campus Leaders released in March 2014.  The book includes essays by 18 presidents and other senior leaders in higher education to provide honest advice for managing crises on a university campus.

She has also co-authored a case study on crisis leadership with the Harvard University Kennedy School and the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. In addition, she was a featured presenter at the inaugural institute on Crisis Leadership in Higher Education at Harvard University.

Dr. Gores has a deep and enduring commitment to shared governance and inclusive leadership practices. Her dissertation research focused on disciplinary cultures within higher education and faculty participation in decision making.

Dr. Gores serves as a peer evaluator for the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association and has served on teams for the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges.

She is a graduate of the Institute for Educational Management (IEM) at Harvard University and participated in the American Academic Leadership Institute (AALI) Executive Leadership Program as well as the Minnesota Partnership for Executive Leadership Development Program.

Throughout her own education, she has embraced academic excellence, student-centered learning, community engagement, and meaningful partnerships. Dr. Gores earned her Ph.D. from the University of Washington, her M.Ed. from Colorado State University, and her B.A. from North Dakota State University.

Prior to her appointment at SMSU, she served in a number of public and private colleges and universities including Winona State University, Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, Cornish College of the Arts, Willamette University College of Law, and Portland State University. Her consulting roles have included projects on strategic enrollment management, retention, and developing effective communications at such institutions as the University of Wisconsin-Superior, Minneapolis Community and Technical College, Longwood University, Randolph-Macon College, and Sierra Nevada College.

Since joining SMSU in July of 2013, Dr. Gores has been tireless in her engagement with the community, faculty, students, and the entire campus. She believes in the importance of active and collaborative learning to foster intellectual achievement and professional success; in addition to empowering students with a sense of personal and social responsibility, the confidence to lead, and the desire to implement change.

Dr. Gores is the proud parent of two adult daughters, Tempa Klinegores Peters, who is married to Austin Peters and resides in Wake Forest, North Carolina, and Kasha Klinegores, Assistant Director of Undergraduate Advising at The George Washington University in Washington, DC.  In October 2013, Dr. Gores welcomed her first grandchild, Stuart, and in July 2015, she welcomed her granddaughter, Avery. Her favorite title is “Nana.”

Last Modified: 2/5/18 4:25 PM