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MSUM president candidate says enrollment will be his first priority

MOORHEAD - Minnesota State University Moorhead reminds Sam Minner of the school where he first earned a college degree and that's part of the reason he wants to be its next president.

Sam Minner
Sam Minner, one of the three finalists to be the next president at Minnesota State University Moorhead, speaks Wednesday, April 2, 2014, at a forum at the Gaede Stage in the Center for the Arts. David Samson / The Forum

MOORHEAD - Minnesota State University Moorhead reminds Sam Minner of the school where he first earned a college degree and that's part of the reason he wants to be its next president.

Addressing the public as part of his candidacy for the school's presidency, Minner, who is now provost and vice president for academic affairs at Radford (Va.) University, drew comparisons between his undergraduate experience and the culture at MSUM.

"Moorhead feels very much like home to me. It's very, very similar in culture, as I understand it, in focus, in mission to the kind of place I began my college career years ago," he said.

As a first-generation college student, Minner said it was the support he received at Southern Illinois University and in the community that helped him succeed.

"People cared about my welfare and helped me achieve even in the face of adversity," he said.

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He said he hoped to replicate that experience for thousands of other students at MSUM.

As an administrator, Minner said he uses a style of leadership known as servant leadership - characterized by leaders who do not separate "themselves with a lot of layers between the people who are doing the heavy lifting."

He said that has potential to improve morale with faculty and staff on campus.

As with Provost Anne Blackhurst's forum for the position Tuesday, conversation during Minner's Q&A section also centered on enrollment. Minner said addressing the school's enrollment challenges would be his first priority during his first few months on the job.

Radford University has had record enrollment this year and is on track for another record-breaking fall enrollment next year, he said.

He called for a 360-degree look at all of the school's enrollment protocols and suggested the enrollment director report to the president.

To move forward with enrollment, Minner said it is important to "get off defense as quickly as we can."

Minner also said he is dedicated to increasing enrollment and retention of underrepresented students like first-generation college students and students of color, and those who "have not always been welcome or successful" on college campuses.

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At Radford, he and others developed a cross-cultural communication training to help the school's recruiters identify with students who come from different backgrounds from their own.

He said he saw how attending college leveled the playing field for him as a first-generation student and continues to level the playing field for students from diverse backgrounds.

The final candidate, Carlos Vargas-Aburto, will visit campus Friday and also give a public presentation. Those who attend the forums or watch them online will be asked to evaluate candidates. Responses will be sent directly to the chancellor's office.

Steven Rosenstone, chancellor for the Minnesota State Colleges and Uni-versities System, is scheduled to make his recommendation to the board of trustees April 23.

If you go

What: Final MSUM presidential candidate forum

When: 1 to 2 p.m. Friday for Carlos Vargas-Aburto

Where: Gaede Stage, Center for the Arts

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Info: Those unable to attend the public forums can watch them live using this link: www.mnstate.edu/presidential-search/live.aspx .

Readers can reach Forum reporter Cali Owings at (701) 241-5599

Related Topics: EDUCATION
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