NDSU needs to proclaim its successes loudly, presidential candidate Mary Holz-Clause says

The last candidate in the search for the school's next leader has visited the campus. A committee will forward at least three finalists to the State Board of Higher Education.

Mary Holz-Clause, chancellor for the University of Minnesota Crookston and acting executive chancellor for the University of Minnesota's Crookston and Morris campuses, answers questions Thursday, Feb. 3, 2022, as part of North Dakota State University's presidential search in the Memorial Union.
Alyssa Goelzer / The Forum

FARGO — North Dakota State University has seen many successes in many areas, and it needs to celebrate them, Mary Holz-Clause said Thursday, Feb. 3, during a forum at the Memorial Union.

“Wear it, own it, celebrate it,” she said as she explained her vision to make the university stronger. “Let it be known with these aggressive strategies that NDSU is the force in the region, the growing force in the region.”

Holz-Clause, chancellor for the University of Minnesota Crookston and acting executive chancellor for the University of Minnesota's Crookston and Morris campuses, is the last of five candidates to visit NDSU as she vies for the school’s presidential position. If chosen to replace President Dean Bresciani, she would become the first woman to lead the university.

Before joining the University of Minnesota system, Holz-Clause was the agriculture dean at California State Polytechnic University, vice president for economic development at the University of Connecticut, and held several administrative positions at Iowa State University, including associate vice president of extension.

Holz-Clause said NDSU needs to change how it helps people to succeed. It also must look at the needs of its clients, including students, recipients of extension services and the business community.


Holz-Clause discussed reaching out to underserved populations when asked about boosting the school’s enrollment. NDSU’s student body has shrunk over the last seven years.

She stressed the importance of communication and transparency, qualities NDSU faculty, staff and students have asked for in the next president. She also touched on using different methods to recruit faculty, staff and students from diverse groups, such as reaching out to various organizations.

She said diversity and inclusion are great words, but making sure people feel welcome is a journey, not just a one-time shot.

Mary Holz-Clause, a candidate for North Dakota State University president, shows the crowd at the Memorial Union on Thursday, Feb. 3, 2022, a mug that was given to her that features words used to describe her.
Alyssa Goelzer / The Forum

“We need to get to the place where I see the outcome of belonging, where everybody feels like they belong, that this is their home, this is their place where they're safe,” she said.

A mural at the University of Minnesota Crookston that has been criticized for what has been called a “problematic” depiction of Native Americans. After holding several forums, school leaders plan to decide how to move forward in a way that makes people feel like they belong at the school while preserving the art, Holz-Clause said.

“I can assure everybody, they're not going to come down,” she said of the murals. “I think taking down art or burning a book is just something that's not there, but we may do something so that when there are public displays, individuals can feel comfortable, that they belong in that space.”

Morris has Division III football, but Crookston decided in 2019 to drop its Division II football program during Holz-Clause’s tenure. She said the team was not very competitive, with a record of 2-64 in its last six seasons. Facilities also were not on par with other teams, as the school faced fundraising challenges for the football team, according to the school.

The fourth candidate to visit campus is a former University of North Dakota Dean. Mary Holz-Clause, a leader for the University of Minnesota Crookston and Morris campuses, will visit NDSU Thursday, Feb. 3.

Leadership felt it better to invest money from the football program into other teams, such as baseball and hockey, she added.


“Oftentimes, you have to prioritize, and we thought we could provide better student athlete experiences if we put that (money) into other programming,” she said.

A search committee will decide Friday which candidates will be finalists. At least three will interview with the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education later this month.

The board will choose Bresciani’s replacement. That person likely will take office around July 1.

April Baumgarten joined The Forum in February 2019 as an investigative reporter. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, N.D., where her family raises Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at the University of Jamestown, N.D.
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