Finalists for Presidency of Southwest Minnesota State University Named

Posted: February 22, 2019

Contact: Doug Anderson,, 651-201-1426

ST. PAUL, Minn., Feb. 22, 2019 – Minnesota State has named four finalists in the search for the next president of Southwest Minnesota State University. The candidates are Susan Elrod, Kumara Jayasuriya, Ronald Johnson, and Carmen Wilson.

The candidates were recommended by a search advisory committee comprised of students, faculty, staff, and community leaders, and chaired by Scott Olson, president of Winona State University. The candidates are scheduled to visit the campus on Feb. 26 to 28, 2019. The campus visits provide an opportunity for students, faculty, staff, and members of the community to meet each of the candidates and offer feedback. Details of the candidates’ campus visits and the process for providing feedback are available at

Photo of Susan Elrod


Susan Elrod has served the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater as provost and executive vice chancellor of Academic Affairs since April 2016. She also served the California State University, Chico, as interim provost and vice president of Academic Affairs; the California State University, Fresno, as dean of the College of Science and Mathematics; the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) as executive director of Project Kaleidoscope; and held various leadership positions at California Polytechnic State University, including director of the Center of Excellence in Science and Math Education, where she was also a professor. She holds a bachelor’s degree from California State University, Chico, and a doctorate from the University of California, Davis. She will visit the SMSU campus Thursday, Feb. 28.

Photo of Kumara Jayasuriya


Kumara Jayasuriya has served as the provost and vice president of Academic Affairs, and a professor of mathematics, at West Virginia State University since 2014. Previously, he served as associate vice chancellor for Academic Affairs and professor of mathematics at Purdue University-North Central Campus from 2011 to 2014. He also served at Indiana University East as dean of the School of Natural Science and Mathematics from 2007 to 2011 and as division chair of the Division of Natural Science and Mathematics and associate professor of Mathematics from 2003 to 2007. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Colombo, a master’s from Southern Illinois University, and a doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He will visit the SMSU campus Wednesday, Feb. 27.


Photo of Ronald Johnson


Ronald Johnson served as president of Clark Atlanta University from 2015 to 2018. Previously, he served as dean of the Jesse H. Jones School of Business at Texas Southern University from 2011 to 2015; and as dean of the College of Business at Western Carolina University from 2007 to 2010. He has served as a professor at Clark Atlanta University, Texas Southern University, Western Carolina University, and Northeastern University. He holds a bachelor’s degree and an MBA from Adelphi University (NY), and a master’s and a doctorate from Stanford University (CA). He will visit the SMSU campus on Wednesday, Feb 27.



Photo of Carmen Wilson


Carmen Wilson has served Dickinson State University as provost since 2016 and as vice president for Academic and Student Affairs since 2017. Previously, she served the University of Wisconsin-Rock County as campus executive officer and dean from 2011 to 2016. She also served the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse as chancellor’s chief of staff from 2008 to 2011, as affirmative action officer from 2009 to 2011, and as an assistant professor, associate professor, and professor from 1999 to 2011. She holds a bachelor’s degree, a master’s, and a doctorate from Iowa State University. She will visit the SMSU campus on Tuesday, Feb. 26.



The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees is expected to consider Chancellor Devinder Malhotra’s recommendation at its March 20 meeting. The anticipated start date of the new president is July 1, 2019. 


Minnesota State includes 30 community and technical colleges and seven state universities serving approximately 375,000 students. It is the fourth-largest system of two-year colleges and four-year universities in the United States.