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Leadership Profile

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Opportunity Overview

studentsSouthwest Minnesota State University seeks an energetic and visionary president with the experience and passion to lead a dynamic institution to realize its mission. Southwest Minnesota State University offers a diverse undergraduate curriculum in the arts and sciences and selected professional programs, as well as master’s degree programs in Business and Education.

The presence of the university fills a higher educational need in Southwest Minnesota and helps drive its economy.

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Strategic Thinker, Risk Taker & Visionary Pragmatist

Southwest Minnesota State has a strong foundation and is well positioned to become an even more vibrant university. There is a committed faculty and staff, engaged alumni, and community that supports its university and who welcome an innovative and creative president to lead them into the future. The new president should be able to be strategic in planning and able in execution. As demographics are changing, global engagement is necessary, and society has become more mobile, multiple challenges emerge where a well thought out plan will be necessary to meet those challenges and pursue opportunity.

Shared Governance & Connections

Southwest Minnesota State University has consistently fostered relationships and a culture of service within and beyond the university community. They are committed to a spirit of cooperation and collaboration, embracing and honoring the diversity of the community. The university desires a president who can honor these notions through shared governance and using the interdependence of everyone to bring all together under a common vision and to use the energy of all the stakeholders. Further, to enhance those connections, the goal is to create a learning environment that attracts a diverse student population and a work environment where differences are respected.

Resource Development

Southwest Minnesota State University provides a supportive environment that places all learners at the center of teaching and scholarship. The university is strongly committed to supporting the educational and career goals of its students and to developing programs responsive to the needs of the region. A president who understands new and innovative curricular and co-curricular programs, strong student faculty-staff connections and superior student services is desired. The president will need to seek outside support to maintain the facilities, programs and scholarships to support the students and the campus. Further, new and emerging methods of program delivery may require enhanced resources. There is a need to form and nurture existing strategic business alliances which advocate for the needs of the university and the region. A capital campaign is in the planning phase. Thus, an outstanding communicator who can articulate the vision and build support for the university is highly desired.

Leadership Style of Transparency & Openness

Presidential leadership at Southwest Minnesota State calls for the incumbent to demonstrate thoughtful capability in judgment and action. Outstanding listening and communication skills are must qualifications for the new president. Respect for and appreciation of the rigors and demand of the faculty and staff roles and the ability to communicate this to all constituents in an open and transparent manner are essential qualifications of the new president.

Enhance Brand

The president will continue to develop Southwest’s brand to provide the university with a competitive advantage in attracting recognized faculty and high caliber students who will consider Southwest as their top choice and keep them in Minnesota. Southwest is in a fast-growing regional hub with agricultural, banking, food, and healthcare industries.


Southwest as a quality institution of choice will require a continuing commitment to capitalizing on its strengths, bringing the culture of innovation and an organizational discipline to identify the new investors in higher education and make them partners in Southwest’s future success. The president will need to tell the collective story and to ensure that stakeholders understand institutional goals and challenges and can see how their role at the university and in the community contributes to collective success.

Our Mission

Southwest Minnesota State University prepares students to meet the complex challenges of this century as engaged citizens in their local and global communities. Our comprehensive degree programs, taught in the liberal arts tradition, are dedicated to connecting students’ academic and practical professional development experiences in southwestern Minnesota to the wider world.

Our Vision

Southwest Minnesota State University is a university of choice.

Core Values

SMSU upholds core values of transformational learning centered on excellence, civic and community engagement, diversity and global awareness, and environmental issues of sustainability and stewardship:

Excellence & Innovation

SMSU faculty and staff create and support a high-quality student-centered learning environment that

  • prepares students to meet the complex challenges of this century as engaged citizens in their local and global communities;
  • provides students with the skills and knowledge to be lifelong learners

Civic and Community Engagement

SMSU faculty and staff are engaged in and support activities that

  • promote civic engagement opportunities that enhance SMSU’s reputation as a locally, regionally, and globally-engaged institution
  • build mutually beneficial partnerships across our region and state
  • provide rich opportunities for learning that go beyond the traditional classroom and lab settings

Diversity and Global Awareness

SMSU faculty and staff contribute to creating an environment that celebrates the diverse and inclusive nature of the SMSU campus community as they

  • foster cultural understanding and interactions and a welcoming and accessible campus environment for all groups
  • provide a supportive environment for intellectual expression and civil communication by all groups

Environment, Stewardship, & Sustainability

SMSU faculty and staff are committed to being responsible stewards of our environmental and fiscal resources who

  • facilitate a safe, accessible campus
  • foster actions, programs, and scholarship that will lead to a sustainable future

The vision statement and core values recognize the University’s emphasis on attention to student needs, promoting r respect for diverse voices, and encouraging sustainable actions.

Following university-wide input, Southwest Minnesota State has put in place a Strategic Plan for the years 2016 through 2021.

The Strategic Plan has five distinct goals, including:

  • Foster quality teaching and learning (Academic Plan)
  • Create a campus and community climate that embraces differences and inclusiveness (Diversity Plan)
  • Enhance campus life experiences by aligning facility resources with university and community needs (Master Facilities Plan)
  • Increase comprehensive enrollment (Enrollment Management Plan)
  • Foster an institutional culture that supports students and employees
    (Institutional Capacity and Effectiveness Plan)

Campus Overview

Southwest Minnesota State University is a public liberal arts institution which offers over 50 majors and minors. SMSU is the youngest of the seven, four-year institutions within the Minnesota State system, and last year (2017-18) celebrated its 50th anniversary.

SMSU also offers four master’s degrees: Business (MBA), Education, Special Education, and Physical Education: Coaching of Sport.

The Culinology degree is the only four-year, Research Chefs Association-approved degree of its kind in the United States. The degree will be offered on the St. Paul College campus beginning in fall semester, 2019.

Exercise Science is one of the fastest-growing majors at SMSU and is offered on the campus of a trio of two-year colleges in the Twin Cities.

SMSU was the first — and is the largest — provider of concurrent enrollment programs in Minnesota, serving more than 5,000 students annually through College Now, which is nationally accredited through NACEP.

SMSU works collaboratively with the city, county and the local school district on a number of joint efforts that benefit the region and make good use of available resources.

The Mustangs compete in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference, the finest Division II conference in the U.S. Mustang athletes are leaders academically and athletically.


July 1, 2016 — June 30, 2017


Personnel Expenses $39,243,00 - Other $16,990,000 - Total $56,233,000


Tuition & Fees $15,844,000 - State Appropriations $18,352,000 - Other $17,770,000 - Total $51,966,000

Enrollment Figures from Fall 2017

SMSU Overview by the numbers
Name Total
Total Headcount 6,910
Degree-seeking (undergrad) 2,122
Non-degree seeking 4,357
Graduate 431
Full-time Equivalent (undergrad) 3,417
FTE Graduate & Undergrad 3,745
Female 57.7%
Male 42.2%
Unknown 0.1%
Students of Color 13.4%
Minnesota Residents 77.5%
Counties Represented 75
Out of State 22.5%
States Represented 38
International 6.1%
Countries Represented
(Demographics based on Degree-Seeking Undergrad)
Students Living on Campus 672
Freshmen Living on Campus 84%
Average Class Size 15
Student-to-Faculty Ratio 15:1
Course sections <30 students 79%
Course sections<50 students 97%
Freshmen Retention (Fall '16 to Fall '17) 59%
Percentage of Eligible Students
Attaining Deans' List Honors
Degrees Conferred (2017-18 Academic Year)
College of Arts, Letters & Sciences: Associate of Arts 15
Bachelor of Science or Arts 213
College of Business, Education & Professional Studies:
Associate of Science 3
Bachelor of Science or Arts 264
Master of Science or Arts 119
Master of Business Admin (MBA) 94
Post-Graduate Certificate 4
Graduate Certificate 2
Undergraduate Certificate 2

Job Placement

Southwest Minnesota State University graduates find jobs. According to the latest data, 99 percent of recent graduates are employed, and 94 percent secured employment in their field of study. A total of 9.4 percent of recent graduates are continuing their education.

Student Life

Students can participate in over 90 clubs and organizations that match their interest areas. The total college experience includes classroom experiences, naturally. It also includes out-of-classroom experiences. And the Student Life staff keeps busy making sure there are plenty of activities planned — everything from comedy acts to music and theater performances and interesting speakers are part of that out-of-classroom experience for the students. Students may also choose to reside in one of six Living & learning Communities on campus — residence halls that have a theme or common interest for its residents.

Diversity and Inclusion

Southwest Minnesota State University embraces diversity. Students of color comprise 14 percent of the student body at SMSU.

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion works with all SMSU constituents to help ensure a quality university education for all students — one that encourages a diverse and multicultural educational experience. A special emphasis is directed toward recruiting and retaining American students of color and international students.

There are 180 international students attending SMSU, which includes both undergraduate and graduate degree-seekers. These international students represent 27 countries from around the globe.

The International Student Services office offers many resources to help acclimate international students to college life at SMSU. A helpful staff understands the unique challenges that international students face, and strives to make the transition to SMSU and Marshall an easy one.

Making a Difference in the Community and State

The concurrent enrollment program at Southwest Minnesota State University is the first, and largest, in Minnesota, with 5,000 students enrolled. The nationally-accredited program aligns the university’s faculty with local high school teachers to teach college-level courses in the high school. Students graduate from high school prepared to succeed in college, some having already earned a two-year degree.

The Southwest Minnesota State University concurrent enrollment program is also addressing the teacher shortage in Minnesota, and specifically, in attracting teachers of color to the profession. The goal is to expose students to a career in education through classes and shadowing opportunities. In this program, which is in 20 high schools, Southwest Minnesota State University is striving to enhance a diverse statewide workforce.

Southwest Minnesota State University is also contributing to the local fabric of the community through educational and community events like Ag Bowl, and the corresponding Ag Bowl Scholarship Challenge. The university hosts high school students in a growing FFA competition, where teams and individuals compete for both cash and scholarship prizes. Over 700 FFA members from across the state competed last academic year. The event is an educational experience for students, and underscores the university’s commitment to agriculture in a geographic area whose economy is driven by agriculture, and ag-related industries.

Giving Back to the Community

  • An estimated $2.4 million in charitable donations and volunteer activities are generated annually by Southwest Minnesota State University faculty, staff, and students.
  • $469,715 donated to local charitable organizations by Southwest Minnesota State University staff, faculty, and students.
  • Over $1.9 million of volunteer time by Southwest Minnesota State University faculty, staff, and students.

Our Community

SMSU is located in Marshall, Minnesota, a friendly, growing community of 14,000. Marshall, named one of America’s Best Small Cities, is an easy drive from the Twin Cities, St. Cloud, Sioux Falls, SD and Fargo, ND. Marshall is also the proud home of Schwan’s Company, Ralco Nutrition, Action TrackChair, along with major employers USBank, Archer Daniels Midland, Affiliated Community Medical Center, and Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center. Marshall is also home to the new Red Baron Arena & Expo.

SMSU Foundation

The SMSU Foundation is served by a 31-member board of directors who strive to advance the Foundation’s mission of engaging alumni and friends of Southwest Minnesota State University (SMSU) in funding scholarships, projects and activities that benefit SMSU students and support the strategic priorities of the university.

The SMSU Alumni Association, Minnesota Ag & Rural Leadership (MARL) and Mustangs Booster Club organizations all fall under the leadership of the SMSU Foundation and are served by their own respective boards. These three organizations each have distinct missions that serve a broad range of constituents.

The Foundation is in the early planning stages of a comprehensive campaign and is poised to raise over $20 million in support of SMSU students and programs. A feasibility study has been completed and board leadership is positioned to assist a new President in leading these fundraising efforts.

Fiscal Year 2017 (July 1,2016-June 30, 2017)

Fiscal Year 2017 from the SMSU Foundation
Name Total
Assets $14,403,615
Contributions Received $3,933,915
Number of Donors 4,402
Alumni Giving Percentage 9.7%
Employee Giving Percentage 60%
Foundation Dollars Contributed to Support SMSU $3,305,004

Southwest Minnesota State University Foundation

Southwest Minnesota State University is a four-year public university making an impact locally and beyond Minnesota, with out-of-state students making up one-quarter of its enrollment. Located less than an hour from the South Dakota and Iowa borders, it offers in-state tuition to all students regardless of residency.

Southwest Minnesota State University is the only state university that offers four-year agricultural programs and has developed a nationally-recognized Culinology degree, a melding of food science, culinary arts, and hospitality that is trademarked by the Research Chefs Association. Southwest Minnesota State University is where the heart of agriculture and food meet in Minnesota.

Southwest Minnesota State University facilitates ongoing conversations with local workforce professionals to ensure students find employment when they graduate and to keep students engaged as part-time employees while still in school. Local employers, like Schwan’s Company, create short-shifts in their production schedules to accommodate students who are enrolled at the university. Others, like U.S. Bank, Ralco Nutrition and Marshall Community Services, offer internships and part-time employment. Students’ applied research and projects are many times tied to local business and industry needs. These types of partnerships and collaborations advance students into full-time jobs, and contribute to local industry.

Contributing to the Economy

  • Southwest Minnesota State University has a combined economic contribution of $173.1 million. This includes a direct impact of $86.3 million and an indirect/induced impact of $86.8 million.
  • Operational and capital spending in the State of Minnesota generates $103.0 million of the total impact and $70.1 million from student and visitor spending.

Supporting and Sustaining Jobs in the State

  • Southwest Minnesota State University directly employs 417 people.
  • Overall, Southwest Minnesota State University supports more than 1,421 Minnesota jobs (844 direct and 547 indirect/induced).

Students and Alumni in the State Generate Additional Impact

In academic year 2016-2017, Southwest Minnesota State University awarded a total of 649 certificates and degrees. SMSU alumni living and working in Minnesota total 14,531. The impact of SMSU alumni earnings above a high school degree (associates, bachelor's, and master's) over the span of 40 years totals $8.9 billion.

With the Redwood River running through the town of Marshall, SMSU leads the community in water quality monitoring. SMSU students mentor the high school students, who in turn work with middle school students, exposing students to opportunities in the STEM fields and making lasting contributions to the local community. This is an on-going research project that has benefits for Southwest Minnesota State University students, high school and middle school students, and the state.

Economic Impact of SMSU in Minnesota

Students StudyingMinnesota State is the largest single provider of higher education in the state. With 37 institutions, including 30 community and technical and seven state universities, Minnesota State serves 58 percent of the state’s undergraduate student population.

Students and employers alike count on Minnesota State to provide an extraordinary education. Our colleges and universities are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, and many of the academic programs offered have received specialized accreditations. Our faculty, too, are credentialed, experienced, and dedicated.

Extraordinary Facts

  • We serve 375,000+ students annually and more students of color, first-generation college students, and students of modest financial means than anyone else in the state, including:
    » 63,500 Students of Color and American Indian Students
    » 48,500 First-Generation College Students
    » 84,000 Low-Income Students
    » 95,000 Students Aged 25 or Older
    » 10,000 Veterans and Service members
  • We offer the lowest tuition in Minnesota.
  • Our colleges and universities have 54 campuses that
    are conveniently located in 47 communities throughout Minnesota.
  • We provide more than 3,700 academic programs, including nearly 600 offered entirely online.
  • We award more than 40,000 degrees,certificates, and diplomas annually.
  • 85% of graduates are employed in a field related to their degree program.
  • Our colleges and universities produce more graduates for jobs in critical, high-demand fields such as health care and information technology than anyone else in the state.
  • We employ more than 16,000 dedicated faculty and staff focused on student success.
  • We provide essential training and specialized certification options for business, industry, and professionals throughout Minnesota.

Minnesota State - Exraordinary Education. Exceptional Value.


Minnesota State’s 15-member Board of Trustees is appointed by the Governor and has policy responsibility for system planning, academic programs, fiscal management, personnel, admissions requirements, tuition and fees, and rules and regulations.


Under the direction of the Board of Trustees,
the chancellor is chief executive officer of Minnesota State and is responsible for providing academic leadership to the system’s 37 colleges and universities, ensuring effective and efficient management and operation of the system so that Minnesota State can meet the current and longterm educational needs of all Minnesotans.

Strategic Framework

In January 2012, the Board of Trustees adopted a strategic framework for Minnesota State’s future. The framework emphasizes the essential role the system plays in growing Minnesota’s economy and opening doors of educational opportunity to all Minnesotans. Minnesota State recently completed a multiyear self-examination and is now moving to operationalize the strategies in the Strategic Framework:

  • To ensure access to an extraordinary education for all Minnesotans
  • To be the partner of choice to meet Minnesota’s workforce and community needs
  • To deliver to students, employers, communities and taxpayers the best value and most affordable higher education option

Presidential Search Qualifications and Characteristics

The successful candidate will demonstrate most, if not all, of these qualifications:

  • Strong leadership skills necessary to provide vision and direction to the university, community and the Minnesota State system
  • A reputation as a leader with vision for the future of higher education
  • Progressively responsible experience in higher education administration or other extraordinary leadership experiences at a complex organization
  • Experience and leadership with shared governance, demonstrating a collegial and collaborative management style
  • Experience in a collective bargaining environment
  • An appropriate combination of education, training, and experience in program and curriculum development, fundraising, governmental relations, accreditation process, as well as budget and fiscal management
  • A record of actions reflecting concern for the success and well-being of students
  • Fosters and promotes public/private partnerships between education and business and industry, community leaders, and organizations
  • Demonstrated ability to lead in an innovative environment and encourage out-of-the-box thinking
  • Success in data-based decision making
  • Ability to lead the university in an authentic, collaborative and transparent manner with integrity and respect
  • Demonstrated experience advancing diversity and inclusion
  • Proven track record of being a visible, engaged and accessible presence with students, alumni, community leaders and friends
  • Experience partnering with K-12 systems and community colleges
  • Exceptional oral and written communication skills effective with broad range of audiences
  • An earned doctorate is preferred but not required

Application Process

Please direct inquiries and nominations to the executive search consultants: Greenwood/Asher & Associates, Inc.

Dr. Jan Greenwood, President & Partner
42 Business Center Drive, Suite 206
Miramar Beach, FL 32550
Phone: 850-650-2277 | Cell: 202-746-6987
Fax: 850-650-2272

Dr. Betty Turner Asher, Vice President & Partner
42 Business Center Drive, Suite 206
Miramar Beach, FL 32550
Phone: 850-650-2277 | Cell: 850-687-0647
Fax: 850-650-2272

Dr. Ann Bailey, Senior Executive Search Consultant
42 Business Center Drive, Suite 206
Miramar Beach, FL 32550
Phone: 850-337-1477 | Cell: 850-830-5169
Fax: 850-650-2272

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