MSU president interviews continue

A presidential search committee interviewed Valley City State University president Steve Shirley, the third of four candidates for the Minot State University presidency, on Thursday.

Shirley is a Fargo native who has been president at Valley City State for six years. He had previously been vice president and dean for student affairs at Dakota State University in Madison, S.D. from 2004 to 2008 and previously was an assistant professor of business and technology and director of the study abroad program at the University of Minnesota-Crookston. Shirley received his undergraduate, master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of North Dakota at Grand Forks.

Shirley said he is proud of the direction Valley City State has taken in the last six years. Academic programs have been strengthened, the number of graduates has increased 50 percent over the last six years and a combination of private fundraising and state funding has increased dollars available to the college. Shirley said Valley City State has also been successful in graduating students who go to medical school and other professional programs. In 20 to 30 years, more of the alumni will be doctors and other professionals, he said. Shirley also has strong involvement in the community, he said, and serves as president of the Valley City Rotary Club and on the board of the local economic development group. As a president in the North Dakota University System, he also has extensive experience in dealing with the state Legislature and with the State Board of Higher Education.

Shirley told the search committee that he believes in maintaining an open door policy for faculty, students and community members and also meets regularly with department heads. He said he doesn’t like to be surprised and doesn’t want anything to come as a surprise to his staff, either.

Shirley said he would spend time learning about Minot State, but is interested in learning more about how to provide more affordable housing for college students in Minot and also is interested in academic programs related to the energy industry. He said small colleges like Dakota College at Bottineau, which is affiliated with MSU, should market niche programs that make it unique to remain successful.

Shirley said he has strong North Dakota roots and wants to stay in the state longterm. His family has ties to Minot.

The search committee interviewed Lorrie Clemo, provost and vice president for academic affairs at the State University of New York at Oswego, on Tuesday and Nicholas Piccolo, the vice president for student life at Alma College in Alma, Mich., on Wednesday. Today it will interview Martin Slann, dean of the college of arts and sciences at the University of Texas in Tyler. After the semi-finalist interviews, the committee will forward three unranked names to North Dakota University System Interim Chancellor Larry Skogen. The three will then be interviewed by the State Board of Higher Education at its Feb. 27 meeting in Minot.

Current MSU President David Fuller is retiring in June.