Posted: April 23, 1997
Contact: Doug Anderson, firstname.lastname@example.org, 651-201-1426
Morris J. Anderson, chief of staff for the governor of Minnesota and a longtime public policy leader, today was appointed interim chancellor of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU), the state's largest higher education system.
The MnSCU Board of Trustees unanimously approved Anderson's appointment, which had been recommended by board Chair Bill Ulland. Anderson will begin his new duties on July 1 after leaving the governor's office.
Anderson, 54, a member of the Board of Trustees for the past year, resigned as a trustee on April 21 to be considered for the interim chancellor's post. It is expected he will serve for a two-year period.
After his selection, Anderson said his top priority will be to implement MnSCU's recently adopted strategic plan. "It is an exciting plan and an ambitious one," he said.
Anderson encouraged faculty, students, administrators and others to help put the plan into action. "As Representative Gene Pelowski said in a newspaper article earlier this week, 'MnSCU needs to be built literally brick by brick.' We need everyone in the MnSCU community to help us lay those bricks and build this system," he said.
Listing his top priorities, Anderson said he wants to hire a vice chancellor for academic affairs as soon as possible. "I need a strong, experienced academic professional to help shape and advance our educational agenda," he said.
Anderson said he intends to "listen a lot" as interim chancellor. "I want to hear what is on the minds of our board, presidents, faculty, students, staff and others in the MnSCU community," he said.
Anderson will replace Judith Eaton, who is leaving MnSCU to become president of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation in Washington, D.C. She will complete her duties with MnSCU on June 30 after serving as chancellor for nearly two years.
Ulland, the MnSCU board chair, said Anderson is the right leader to build on Eaton's accomplishments. "MnSCU has made immense progress since it was created nearly two years ago, and it is essential that we maintain that momentum," he said. "Morrie Anderson will provide the strong leadership we need."
Ulland said MnSCU needs a leader who is knowledgeable about the higher education system's progress and goals, who has strong skills in leading a complex organization and who is well informed about Minnesota government. "Morrie Anderson fits the bill in every respect," Ulland said.
He noted that Anderson's appointment was recommended to him by Chancellor Eaton. Ulland has asked Trustee David Erickson, chair of the board's Personnel Policy Committee, to negotiate Anderson's compensation package.
Anderson, a Waconia resident, has more than 28 years of experience in management and policy development positions.
As the governor's chief of staff since November 1994, he has served as chief operations officer for the state of Minnesota, with its 43,000 employees and annual general fund budget of $9 billion.
He served as commissioner of the state Department of Revenue from January 1993 to November 1994 and as assistant commissioner for tax policy from January 1991 to May 1992. He was executive director of the Association of Minnesota Counties from 1982 to 1987 and deputy director from 1977 to 1982.
He also worked as manager of David M. Griffith & Associates in St. Paul from May 1992 to December 1992, vice president of regulatory affairs for Biotrol Inc. in Chaska from 1987 to 1991, account executive with Springsted Inc. from 1974 to 1977 and city administrator for the city of Shakopee from 1971 to 1974. He was an elected county commissioner in Carver County from 1971 to 1975 and served as an officer in the U.S. Army Transportation Corps from 1965 to 1968.
Anderson holds a master's degree in urban affairs from Mankato State University and a bachelor's degree in economics from Macalester College. He also has attended The Wharton School, the St. Thomas Management Center and the MFOA Career Development Center.
Anderson directed some of his comments today to faculty and students. "To the faculty, thank you for making this system what it is today -- an enterprise dedicated to excellence in teaching and learning," he said. "You are the heart of this system...I have enormous respect and appreciation for your important work, and I look forward to working with you to make MnSCU an even better system in which to teach and learn."
He expressed thanks to the students "for providing the inspiration that makes me want to be chancellor. MnSCU exists to serve students. "Our strategic plan is titled 'Putting Students First.' That is not just a catch phrase or an abstract concept," Anderson said. "To me, it's very real."
Anderson noted that he has three college-age children, "and I know what it's like to face tuition increases, to juggle the demands of work and school, and to manage the stresses that students experience."
Earlier this week, news of Anderson's recommended appointment drew several comments from state government leaders. "Morrie Anderson has been a tremendous asset to this administration and would be sorely missed," said Governor Arne Carlson. "I am confident he would be an outstanding chancellor for MnSCU, considering his strong management abilities and vast experience in the public sector. He has served the people of Minnesota exceptionally well as chief of staff and would continue to serve them well as chancellor."
Minnesota House Speaker Phil Carruthers said, "I wish Morrie well. He has been a good administrator and has extensive experience as a public servant in Minnesota. His background and open management style would be useful in building trust and getting the organization to pull together. It's my hope that he would work closely with faculty and student groups to build a strong working relationship on behalf of MnSCU."
Rep. Lyndon Carlson, chair of the House Education Committee, said: "Morrie Anderson does have extensive administrative experience outside higher education. If he is a good listener and a strong advocate for public higher education, it is very likely he will be a successful interim chancellor. The position is so vital to the future of the state it is important to all of us that he succeed."
Sen. Cal Larson, a member of the Senate Higher Education Division, said: "Morrie has a strong background in management. I have worked with him on a number of issues, and I would think he would do a good job as interim chancellor. I look forward to working with him in getting our students ready for the rest of their lives."
The MnSCU system became operational on July 1, 1995, bringing together previously separate systems of community colleges, state universities and technical colleges. The merger of the three systems resulted from legislation passed by the 1991 Minnesota Legislature.