The University of Minnesota Morris (UMN Morris), a member of the University of Minnesota System as well as the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC), seeks a personable, transparent, and highly communicative academic leader as its next Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean. The successful candidate will combine a deep understanding of the liberal arts and a passion for public education, with a drive to prepare students to be global citizens who value and pursue intellectual growth, civic engagement, intercultural competence, and environmental stewardship. UMN Morris invites academic leaders who value sustainability, a connected community, and a free exchange of ideas to join the team at a top 10 national public liberal arts college.
The Position: Reporting to the Chancellor, the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean (VCAA/Dean) serves as UMN Morris’s chief academic officer and dean of the faculty and is responsible for all aspects of academic and faculty affairs. To promote the core mission of student learning and success, the VCAA/Dean’s responsibilities include serving as a member of the University’s leadership team, as leader of and advocate for the faculty, and as a manager of academic affairs programs. The VCAA/Dean will advance the University’s mission and vision, cultivate strong partnerships within the campus community and across the University of Minnesota system, build relationships with and initiatives serving regional constituents and alumni and donors, build a diverse and inclusive learning community, support assessment, accreditation, and data-informed decision-making, build upon existing programs designed to support faculty and ensure student success, and work collaboratively with the other members of the Chancellor’s team to forward campus-wide efforts and projects.
The VCAA/Dean’s portfolio includes collaborative support and direct supervision of the chairs of four academic divisions: Education, Humanities, Science and Mathematics, and Social Sciences. The VCAA/Dean works to sustain and embolden innovation in interdisciplinary areas that cross the boundaries of traditional divisions. The VCAA/Dean also supervises offices in support of the academic enterprise which include academic support resources, grants development, Center for Small Towns, the Academic Center for Enrichment (study away, career services, honors program, undergraduate research), and the library.
The Institution: UMN Morris is a residential liberal arts and science university that provides a rigorous undergraduate liberal arts education, preparing its students to be global citizens who value and pursue intellectual growth, civic engagement, intercultural competence, and environmental stewardship. As a public university, UMN Morris champions accessible public education for all and promises accountability to the people it serves. Moreover, UMN Morris combines the benefits of an intimate, student-centered community with the resources and opportunities of one of the nation’s largest universities, the University of Minnesota. The campus community believes in the values of shared governance, embodied in its official policy-making body, an inclusive Campus Assembly. With a deep commitment to diversity, UMN Morris recognizes the heritage of its campus site on the original Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) and Dakota and Lakota (Sioux) homelands, which once housed an American Indian boarding school. UMN Morris is the only four-year Native American-Serving Nontribal Institution in the upper Midwest, welcoming students from 70 federally recognized American Indian tribes/Alaskan Native villages and Canadian First Nations. With a vibrant sense of community in and out of the classroom, UMN Morris aims to integrate curricular and co-curricular aspects of the student experience. UMN Morris is a national leader in campus sustainability, ranked number one in the U.S. for producing the most renewable energy per student. As a rural liberal arts school, UMN Morris is rich with abundant wind, arable soil, and ample sun. Situated at the intersection of diverse ecological prairie and forest regions, UMN Morris is an ideal laboratory for carrying out green living goals. The university also reaches outward to the broader local community with collaborative enterprises and service-learning initiatives. UMN Morris serves a diverse enrollment of approximately 1,100 students who are supported by faculty (99% of whom hold the highest degree in their field) and benefit from a student-to-teacher ratio of 10:1.
True to its liberal arts mission, UMN Morris provides outstanding, student-centered, rigorous, and adaptable academic programs. The campus has a particular strength in the sciences with over 40 percent of entering students declaring science as a field of study. UMN Morris students choose from 34 majors and 35 minors, 12 licensure areas, and 9 pre-professional programs in education, the humanities, science and mathematics, and the social sciences. UMN Morris students can explore a wide range of academic disciplines, from art and music to math and chemistry, while mastering transferable skills like critical thinking, effective communication, and problem-solving. Along the way, they build on their analytical, investigative, and intellectual strengths. Additionally, UMN Morris Cougar Athletics offers a competitive NCAA Division III intercollegiate athletics experience advancing the institution’s commitment to academic excellence, diversity, service, and community; fostering the core values of integrity, respect, unity, commitment, and excellence; and furthering students’ success in athletics, learning, and life. To learn more about UMN Morris, visit https://morris.umn.edu.
Qualifications: The next Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean must be an energetic and collaborative leader with a passion for student-focused public, rural, liberal arts education. UMN Morris will benefit from a leader who will continue efforts to diversify the faculty and ensure the richness of diversity in all areas of academic life including access, curriculum and scholarship, and campus climate and who will work with others across campus to achieve these goals. The successful candidate will demonstrate knowledge of effective academic administration, model the values of academic integrity, and enhance the intellectual depth and entrepreneurial spirit of the campus. The VCAA/Dean should have experience or familiarity with shared governance environments, an understanding of public higher education, and passion for liberal arts education. Commitment to transparency, communication, and collaboration through decentralizing decision-making when appropriate is vital, as is a diverse and global approach to teaching, research, and service. Strong leadership, diplomacy, planning, curriculum development, assessment of educational outcomes, and resource allocation skills are essential. The VCAA/Dean will continue to support and promote opportunities for award-winning faculty to engage in scholarly and creative work. The VCAA/Dean must bring strengths in sustaining strong and productive partnerships across a large organization while simultaneously advocating in those relationships for the priorities, goals, and objectives of their own institution/division. A terminal degree or equivalent experience is required, with a demonstrated level of professional achievement in teaching and scholarship commensurate with the rank of tenured full professor at UMN Morris.
Location: Located in West Central Minnesota, the scenic city of Morris is a thriving rural community with approximately 5,200 people. A small town on the prairie with cultural, educational, and healthcare access, Morris enjoys a unique blend of agriculture, industry, and culture. Visitors enjoy the peaceful scenery, easy access to public parks, outdoor recreational activities, and unique shops. Morris is full of surprises—from the wind turbines symbolizing commitment to green energy, to the local food co-op, fair trade coffee shop, restaurants, and farmers’ market, to a world-class jazz festival, plays, concerts, horticulture gardens, and gallery openings at a downtown art store and on the UMN Morris campus. The campus enriches its surrounding area with innovative collaborative projects in athletics, the arts, and education.
Application: Interested candidates should submit only a cover letter and CV/resume to RPA Inc. at UMNMorrisVCAA@rpainc.org. For a confidential discussion about this opportunity or to make a nomination, please contact Dana John Cohick, President, or Kendra Mozug, Search Consultant, at the email address above. The review of candidates will begin on October 20, 2023, and first-round interviews will commence thereafter.
The University shall provide equal access to and opportunity in its programs, facilities, and employment without regard to race, color, creed, religion, national origin, gender, age, marital status, familial status, disability, public assistance status, membership or activity in a local commission created for the purpose of dealing with discrimination, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.