David Olson elected chair of MnSCU Board of Trustees

Posted: July 18, 2007

Contact: Doug Anderson, doug.anderson@so.mnscu.edu, 651-201-1426

The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees on Wednesday elected David Olson, president of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, as board chair; Ruth Grendahl, will serve as vice chair; and C. Scott Thiss, Edina, will be treasurer. Their one-year terms begin Aug. 1.

In his dual roles, he said, "The Minnesota Chamber and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system share similar priorities. Among those is ensuring that the system is more responsive to the needs of students as they prepare for careers in a rapidly evolving economy." Olson, who lives in Minnetonka, has been president of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce since 1991.

Olson also noted that with the state's aging workforce, employers of all types and sizes are increasingly challenged to find enough qualified workers. "With the wide range of academic, technical and customized training programs offered by the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, the system provides many valuable resources for employers," Olson said.

In addition to his other positions, Olson has served as president of Minnesotans for Better Roads and Transit, a coalition focused on improving the state's transportation system, and serves as co-chair of the Workers' Compensation Advisory Council. Before joining the Minnesota Chamber, Olson was president of the TwinWest Chamber of Commerce and served as executive director of the Burnsville Chamber of Commerce. He also has held staff positions in economic development, transportation and energy at the Greater Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce.

Olson earned a master's degree in public administration from Minnesota State University, Mankato and a bachelor's degree in urban/political science from St. Olaf College. His board term expires in 2010. He succeeds David Paskach, an attorney from Cottonwood, as chair.

Grendahl, Apple Valley, is an owner of RnD Products, a business that markets electrical construction products nationally. A member of the Apple Valley City Council since 1997, she also has served as deputy commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Public Service. In 2004, she was appointed chair of the Minnesota Livable Communities Advisory Committee by the Metropolitan Council, and she has served as commissioner, treasurer and finance committee chair of the Minnesota Valley Transit Authority. She has served on the College of Science, Engineering and Technology Industrial Advisory Board at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Grendahl holds bachelor's degrees in political science and urban and regional studies and a master's degree in public administration from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her board term expires in 2010.

Thiss is president and chief executive officer for Sailforth, Inc., an Edina holding company, and previously served as president and chief executive officer for S&W Plastics, LLC, in Eden Prairie. Thiss serves on several boards, including Habitat for Technology, Anderson Iron Works and the Northwestern University Alumni Association. In addition, he is a board member and chair of the Governance Committee for Innovance, Inc. and past chair of the boards of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and the Normandale Community College Foundation. Thiss earned a bachelor's degree and an M.B.A. from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. and holds a Certified Public Accountant certificate. His board term expires in 2012.

The Board of Trustees governs the largest system of higher education in the state.