Minnesota State Board Elects New Chair and Vice Chair

Posted: June 19, 2019

Contact: Doug Anderson, doug.anderson@MinnState.edu, 651-201-1426

ST. PAUL, Minn., June 19, 2019 – The Board of Trustees of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities has unanimously elected Jay Cowles to serve as chair, and elected Roger Moe to serve as vice chair. Both elections are effective July 1, 2019.

“Trustee Cowles recognizes the importance of higher education to the future prosperity of our citizens and the state of Minnesota,” said Devinder Malhotra, chancellor of Minnesota State. “His talent, experience, and commitment will ensure that we will continue to deliver opportunities for all Minnesotans to build a better future for themselves, for their families, and for their communities.”

Photo of Jay CowlesCowles has served on the Board of Trustees since 2014, including as treasurer from 2015 to 2018, and as vice chair since 2018. Previously, he held staff, operating management, and governance roles in Cowles Media Company, former owners of the Star Tribune newspaper, including vice chairman of the Board of Directors from 1991 to 1993 and chairman from 1993 to 1998. He was until 2016 the president of Unity Avenue Associates, a private family investment office, and he also served as chairman and president of the Women’s Pro Softball League, a startup sports enterprise that continues today as National Pro Fastpitch. He is a founding member of the Itasca Project and currently serves as a member of the Minneapolis Downtown Council, the Mississippi Park Connection, and other civic organizations. He also holds advisory roles at the University of Minnesota including the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs and the Center for Transportation Studies. He has served a number of civic and arts organizations including the Saint Paul Foundation, the Minnesota Community Foundation, and the Minneapolis Foundation. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Harvard College and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

“I am deeply honored to have been selected for this vital role, and am truly grateful for the confidence in me shown by my fellow trustees,” said Cowles. “I look forward to working closely with all of the members of the Board, the leadership of Minnesota State, and our faculty, staff, and students to meet the challenges ahead.”

Cowles succeeds Michael Vekich, who has served as chair for a total of eight years spanning 1997 to 2001 and 2015 to 2019. Vekich is currently in his third six-year term as a member of the Board of Trustees – his current appointment will end in June, 2022. Malhotra continued, “Mike Vekich has served as chair of the Board of Trustees with distinction and with steadfast focus on the success of our students. I am tremendously grateful to him -- for his leadership, for his creativity, for his hard work, and for his many contributions to Minnesota State, which I know will continue with his continued role on the Board. His efforts have made a lasting contribution to the vitality of our state and has helped to improve the lives of countless graduates of our colleges and universities. We are all in his debt.” 

Photo of Roger Moe
Roger Moe, who has served on the Board of Trustees since 2016, was elected to serve as vice chair. A resident of Erskine, MN, he served 32 years in the Minnesota Legislature, including 22 years as Senate majority leader. His legislative accomplishments include the creation of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, the Minnesota Job Skills Partnership, the Midwest Higher Education Commission, and the Environmental Trust Fund. He is currently the president of National Strategies, Inc., and he has also served as the Vice President of Coleman/Christison, Inc., and as a mathematics teacher and coach at Ada High School. Moe is a former member of the Policy Consensus Initiative Board of Directors, Debate Minnesota, the Minnesota Twins Community Fund, and the Minnesota Job Skills Partnership Board. Senator Moe earned his bachelor’s degree from Mayville State University and received an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from the University of Minnesota for his years of public service.


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