Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) Board of Trustees members were unanimous Wednesday in the appointment of Scott R. Olson as the next Winona State University (WSU) President.
Photo by Sarah Squires
The board also appointed Connie Gores, current WSU Vice President for Student Life and Development, to serve as interim president until Olson takes his new post in July.
Olson is currently Minnesota State University - Mankato Provost and Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs, and said Wednesday he is honored to have been chosen to lead such a successful institution in Winona.
“It’s really an honor to be chosen,” he said of the MnSCU Board appointment, made at the recommendation of Chancellor Steven Rosenstone.
Rosenstone said the community and WSU faculty submitted tremendous feedback and support about Olson during the selection process, and that he stood out for his commitment to excellence, access, diversity and to crafting partnerships and innovation in education. “He too is a person of tremendous integrity,” added Rosenstone.
Olson formerly served as interim vice chancellor for MnSCU, and MnSCU board members mentioned a good relationship with Olson. Board member James Van Houten said there have been few candidates that the board has known so well, adding the strong endorsement was in part due to that relationship. “I think this is an outstanding appointment,” he said.
Olson was welcomed Wednesday with a large reception at WSU, when about a hundred university and community members issued hearty applause.
“For a century and a half, this university has been engaging in a just war,” he began. You’ve been warriors of a noble battle, he said, a battle for the sake of wisdom. “You are winning that battle on behalf of students.”
Olson said he is excited to move with his wife to the area, adding his youngest daughter is about to head off to college, leaving his nest somewhat empty and providing for an opportune time to head for a new horizon. He’ll miss Mankato hockey, he said, but welcomes the chance to become part of such a vibrant community boasting so many arts and cultural endeavors.
One of his first efforts as president, said Olson, will be to learn more about the community and university, to identify all of the great assets already in place. “Part of it is listening, a lot,” he said. “This institution does so many things right, some of it is figuring out the magic of this place.”
Outgoing WSU President Judith Ramaley was also named President Emeritus by the MnSCU Board on Wednesday. It’s a title, said Rosenstone, not afforded to all past presidents, but those “that have done extraordinary service.”