Posted: March 29, 2004

Contact: Doug Anderson,, 651-201-1426

"Purpose and Excellence: Assisting the President in Our Higher Education Communities" brought 20 Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System presidential assistants to St. Paul on March 18 and 19. The assistants convened to launch the first systemwide gathering of the group. Speakers addressed diverse topics, introducing the conferees to elements of leadership from the campus setting to the halls of government.

A session, "Being a Leader in the Company of Leaders," explored the qualities of leadership desired in the presidential assistant, all identified by the system's own presidents. Maryan G. McCormick, a consultant in leadership practice and characteristics, guided the discussion.

State Sen. Sandra Pappas addressed "Making a Difference in Higher Education." Pappas, chair of the Senate Higher Education Budget Committee, also is a Metropolitan State University faculty member. Other speakers were Kathleen Nelson, president of Lake Superior College; Kristine Kaplan, Office of the Chancellor assistant general counsel; and Janice Fitzgerald, chief of staff to Chancellor James H. McCormick.

Conference participants also heard from Richard Davenport, president, Minnesota State University, Mankato; Kenneth Peeders, president, Minnesota State Community and Technical College; and William Tschida, Vice Chancellor for Human Resources, Office of the Chancellor.

"This is a meeting that has been long in coming," said Chancellor James McCormick. "The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities is an academic enterprise that encourages continued learning and professional development at all levels. Our presidential assistants are a vital, contributive, and supportive part of our chain of leadership."

Presidential assistants are a recognized corps of higher education professionals. The National Association of Presidential Assistants, established in 1988, first met as part of an American Council on Education annual meeting. The association membership of 650 now hosts its own annual meeting with a focus on professional development activities; research and articles on the position of presidential assistants in higher education; collaboration among presidential assistants, including use of the Internet to share information; and the increase of opportunities for individual and institutional cooperation in such areas as personnel searches, information exchanges, and assistance on issues such as special events and policy development.

Conference committee planning committee members were Sybil Broskoff, Riverland Community College; Jan Eimers, Minnesota State University, Mankato; Carol Totland, Minnesota State Community and Technical College; and Margaret Johnson, Vicki Schoenbeck and Colleen Thompson, all of the Office of the Chancellor.

Note: A list of attendees follows.

Lynnette Brambrink, Anoka-Ramsey Community College
Kimberlee Gelhar, Dakota County Technical College
Mary Soyring, Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College
Lynn Bergin, Hennepin Technical College
Judy Gouin, Inver Hills Community College
Sonda Strom-Larson, Lake Superior College
Leanne Derry, Metropolitan State University
Elizabeth Zuehlke, Minneapolis Community & Technical College
Beth Stanford, Minnesota State College- Southeast Technical
Carol Totland, Minnesota State Community and Technical College
Jan Eimers, Minnesota State University, Mankato
Maxine Pianka, Minnesota State University Moorhead
Kathy Hawk, Minnesota West Community and Technical College
Gloria Robinson, Normandale Community College
Deborah Pope, North Hennepin Community College
Cindy Cedergren, Northland Community and Technical College
Sybil Broskoff, Riverland Community College
Judy Kingsbury, Rochester Community and Technical College
June Schifsky, Saint Paul College
Sue Prout, St. Cloud State University
Karen Hiemenz, St. Cloud Technical College
Carol Freed, South Central College
Lynn Peterson, Southwest Minnesota State University
Office of the Chancellor staff in attendance were:
Susan Boone, Chancellor's Office
Inge Chapin, Board Office
Mary Hauser, Academic and Student Affairs
Linda King-Johnson, Equal Opportunity and Diversity
Nancy Lamden, Finance and Administration
Christine McGing, Public Affairs
Vicki Schoenbeck, Human Resources
Colleen Thompson, Chancellor's Office
Dorothy Zenner, General Counsel