Posted: July 23, 2007

Contact: Doug Anderson,, 651-201-1426

The names of three finalists for president of Normandale Community have been submitted to the chancellor of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System, James H. McCormick. The candidates are John O'Brien, Joseph Opatz and Robert Ross.

The finalists were recommended by a search committee chaired by Larry Litecky, president of Century College in White Bear Lake.

John O'Brien has served as academic vice president at Century College since 2005. Previously, he was associate vice chancellor for instructional technology in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Office of the Chancellor; an English and composition instructor at Normandale Community College; an instructor in the Program in Composition at the University of Minnesota; an adjunct instructor at Augsburg College in Minneapolis and the University of St. Thomas and an English teacher at O'Gorman High School in Sioux Falls, S.D. He holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Minnesota; a master's degree with honors in Anglo-Irish literature from the University of Dublin, Trinity College, and a bachelor's degree in English and education from Augustana College in South Dakota.

Joseph Opatz has served as vice president for academic and student affairs at Central Lakes College in Brainerd since October 2005. Previously, he was the interim president at Central Lakes College, a representative from St. Cloud in the Minnesota House of Representatives; interim executive dean and dean of instructional programs at Anoka-Ramsey Community College; associate vice president for academic affairs at St. Cloud State University; a Visiting Scholar in the Department of Educational Policy and Administration at the University of Minnesota; special assistant to the president, director of the University Student Center and adjunct faculty member at St. Cloud State University; director of the Health Promotion Program at St. Cloud Hospital; executive director of the National Wellness Institute and adjunct faculty member at the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point; senior personnel administrator for Hennepin County government and director of the Student Center for the College of New Jersey in Trenton. He holds a Ph.D. in higher education from the University of Minnesota, a master's degree in counseling and student personnel from Kent State University in Ohio and a bachelor's degree in psychology from St. Cloud State University.

Robert Ross has been vice president for academic and student affairs at Cape Cod Community College in West Barnstable, Mass since 2000. Previously, he was the dean of Academic and Student Affairs at Tunxis Community College in Farmington, Conn.; assistant vice president of academic and student affairs, associate dean of academic affairs, acting dean of student affairs and director of counseling services at Bunker Hill Community College in Boston; and an ACE fellow at the American Council on Education. He also has served as adjunct faculty at Bunker Hill and Tufts University; a psychologist, community treatment specialist at Franklin County Public Hospital in Greenfield, Mass.; and co-director and coordinator of drug education for a substance abuse program at the University of Massachusetts. He holds an Ed.D. in counseling, a master's degree in higher education administration and human relations, and a bachelor's degree in English, all from the University of Massachusetts.

The new president will replace Katherine Hiyane-Brown, who resigned to become president of Whatcom Community College in Bellingham, Wash. Chancellor McCormick, along with one to three members of the Board of Trustees, will conduct interviews with the finalists. McCormick will make a recommendation to the Board of Trustees, which could act on the recommendation at special meeting July 30. Normandale Community College, based in Bloomington, serves more than 12,000 students in credit courses annually and providing a variety of educational programs and delivery options.