Three semifinalists named for presidency of North Hennepin Community College

Posted: March 3, 2010

Contact: Doug Anderson,, 651-201-1426

The names of three semifinalists for president of North Hennepin Community College in Brooklyn Park have been submitted to James H. McCormick, chancellor of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system.

The semifinalists are John O’Brien, Patrick Schmitt and Laura Urban.

The semifinalists were recommended by a search committee chaired by Cheryl Frank, president of Inver Hills Community College.

John O’Brien is currently on leave from his position as academic vice president and chief academic officer at Century College to direct the “Students First” project, a Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system initiative to improve student services. In 2008-2009, he served as acting president of Century College. Before becoming Century’s academic vice president, he was an associate vice chancellor and system director for instructional technology in the system office, and an instructor at Normandale Community College, Augustana College in South Dakota and the University of Minnesota. He also has been an adjunct instructor at Augsburg College and the University of St. Thomas and has taught at O’Gorman High School in Sioux Falls, S.D. He holds a bachelor’s degree in English and education from Augustana College, a master’s degree in Anglo-Irish literature from the University of Dublin, Trinity College in Ireland and a doctorate in English from the University of Minnesota.

Patrick Schmitt has been the campus executive officer and dean of the campus at the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha since January 2006. Previously, he was the associate vice president of instruction at South Suburban College in South Holland, Ill.; professor of humanities at Pasco-Hernando Community College in Brooksville, Fla.; and assistant professor and director of graduate studies at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. He holds a bachelor’s degree in communications and theatre from the University of Illinois-Chicago and a doctorate with specializations in theater, drama and criticism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He also did graduate study at the University of South Florida and the University of Illinois-Chicago.

Laura Urban has been chief academic officer and academic dean at Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe Community College in Hayward, Wis., since 2006. Previously, she was director of institutional effectiveness and dean of instructional planning at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College in Shell Lake, Wis.; director of the Small Business Development Center, a business instructor and outreach program manager at the University of Wisconsin-Superior; director of training and employee development for the city of Savannah, Ga.; senior management analyst for the Directorate of Resource Management, Department of the Army at Ft. Stewart, Ga.; and senior education services officer, education services specialist and guidance counselor for the Army Continuing Education System in Germany.

The new president will replace Ann Wynia, who is retiring. The chancellor, along with one to three members of the Board of Trustees and others, will conduct interviews with the semifinalists. McCormick will make a recommendation to the Board of Trustees, which could act on the recommendation at a meeting March 17.