Statement from Minnesota State Colleges and Universities board chair Thomas Renier on the passing of former MnSCU trustee and board chair David Olson:

Posted: July 17, 2014

Contact: Doug Anderson,, 651-201-1426

ST. PAUL, Minn., July 17, 2014 - On behalf of the Board, Chancellor Steven Rosenstone, Chancellor-emeritus James McCormick, and our many colleagues across the state, it is my sad duty to report that former Minnesota State Colleges and Universities trustee and board chair David Olson died yesterday.

Today we mourn the loss of a true friend. Appointed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty in 2004, David chaired just about every MnSCU committee during his tenure on the board. He was elected chair by his fellow trustees in 2007, a role he held for three years until he retired from the board in 2010.

David had a deep appreciation for the economic impact our state colleges and universities have on communities throughout Minnesota, and he worked tirelessly to make sure others in the business community shared the same appreciation. He firmly believed that you could combine the best of higher education with sound business practices, so it is no surprise that David’s time as chair is remembered for a staggering list of accomplishments measured both by business benchmarks and academic standards. We saw record enrollment growth, the creation of an accountability dashboard to track the system’s performance, the launch of MnSCU’s first nursing doctoral program, and the opening of access and opportunity centers on a number of our campuses.

David moved us steadily in a direction that helped the people of Minnesota in immeasurable ways – and that means all the people of Minnesota, particularly populations traditionally underserved by higher education. David understood that our state can prosper only if every Minnesotan has access to an affordable college or university education.

Following David’s retirement, Scott Thiss, who succeeded David as chair, called upon David to lead the search for a new chancellor, which is no small task. David said yes. Of course he said yes. He may have left the board, but his passion for the work we do on behalf of Minnesota was never stronger.

For those of us who served on the board, David will be greatly missed. He was quite simply our leader.

The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities include 24 two-year community, technical, and comprehensive colleges and seven state universities serving more than 430,000 students. It is the fifth-largest higher education system of its kind in the United States.