Posted: May 31, 2001

Contact: Doug Anderson,, 651-201-1426

Jon E. Quistgaard was appointed president of Bemidji State University and Joseph C. Birmingham was appointed president of Central Lakes College in Brainerd and Staples today by the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees.

Quistgaard has been vice president for academic and student affairs at Bemidji State since 1997. He first came to the Bemidji campus in 1979 and has held several top administrative positions at the university.

Birmingham, of Topeka, Kan., has been deputy executive director of the Kansas Board of Regents since 1999. He previously served as president and vice president at several community colleges as well as other leadership positions in education.

"I am very happy that we have two such experienced and highly qualified academic leaders to step into these key positions," said Chancellor Morris J. Anderson, who recommended their appointments.

Michael M. Vekich, chair of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees, said he is pleased with the excellent qualifications of the new presidents.

"I am confident they are very well-prepared to assume these challenging positions," Vekich said. "This is a time that demands responsiveness in dealing with our fast-changing economy and the many emerging educational needs. These new presidents will contribute strong leadership and expertise to their campuses and to Minnesota State Colleges and Universities."

Jon E. Quistgaard

Quistgaard, 52, has a doctorate in political science from the University of Arizona, where he also earned master's and bachelor's degrees in government. His previous positions at Bemidji State include director of admissions and advising, dean of undergraduate admissions and graduate studies, acting vice president for academic and student affairs and associate vice president for academic affairs and dean of academic services.

Prior to coming to Bemidji State, Quistgaard owned and operated businesses and worked as a grant writer, researcher and teaching assistant at the University of Arizona.

Bemidji State has a projected full-year-equivalent enrollment of 4,258 students in the 2000-2001 academic year and offers associate, bachelor's and master's degree programs. Its largest programs are in education, business administration, design technology, psychology and criminal justice.

Quistgaard will succeed M. James Bensen, who is retiring Aug. 24.

Joseph C. Birmingham

Birmingham, 52, holds a doctorate in education from the University of North Texas, where he earned a master of education degree, and has a bachelor's degree in science from the University of Texas at Arlington.

Birmingham began his education career in 1973 as a science teacher in the Dallas, Texas, school district and also taught chemistry for firefighters and environmental biology at El Centro College in Dallas, Texas. In 1976-77, he was director of cooperative education at the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas.

He held several administrative positions at Texas A & M University in Texarkana from 1977 to 1981. He joined Yavapai College in Prescott, Ariz., in 1981, where he served as dean of student services and vice president for instruction and student services. In 1992 he was named president of LaBette Community College in Parsons, Kan.

Birmingham served as assistant commissioner for Lifelong Learning for the Kansas State Department of Education for two years beginning in 1998 before assuming his current position with the Kansas Board of Regents, which oversees six state universities and coordinates 30 community and technical colleges and a municipal university.

He will succeed President Sally Ihne, who is retiring Aug. 14.

Central Lakes College, a two-year community and technical college with campuses in Brainerd and Staples, offers associate degrees, diplomas and certificates. It has a projected full-year-equivalent enrollment of 2,422 students for the 2000-2001 academic year.