Shari Olson Named Interim President of Northland Community & Technical College

Posted: April 17, 2024

Contact: Doug Anderson,, 651-201-1426

ST. PAUL, Minn., April 17, 2024 – The Board of Trustees of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities has named Shari Olson to serve as interim president of Northland Community & Technical College. The appointment becomes effective July 1, 2024.

“With her deep knowledge of Minnesota State, including her previous leadership role with Northland, I am confident Dr. Olson is the right person to provide leadership during this transition,” said Scott Olson, chancellor of Minnesota State. “She will make tremendous contributions to the well-being of Northland Community & Technical College — promoting a culture of collaboration and continuous innovation and improvement. I’m grateful that Shari is willing to take on this challenge and I look forward to working closely with her as she positions Northland for success well into the future.”

Image of Shari Olson

Dr. Olson is an experienced educator committed to the role that comprehensive community and technical colleges play in our society and brings with her a passion for continuous learning and self-improvement.

In her most recent role, she served as president of South Mountain Community College (AZ) from 2011 until her retirement in 2022. Under her leadership, the college achieved several important milestones, including a 10-year reaffirmation of Higher Learning Commission (HLC) accreditation, securing a Department of Education Title V grant of nearly $3 million, receiving HLC approval to offer a Bachelor of Science program in Behavioral Science, opening the SMCC Science Complex after a $19 million remodeling, and recognition by the Aspen Institute as one of the nation’s top 150 community colleges four times from 2015 to 2021.

Previously, she served as interim president of Anoka Technical College from 2010 to 2011 where her many accomplishments included facilitating the creation of the college master technology plan and redesigning the organizational structure to maximize employee talent and create efficiencies. In 2011, she was recognized by the Minnesota State College Student Association (now called LeadMN) with the President of the Year award.

She also served Minnesota State as System Director of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) from 2009 to 2010 where she designed and led a systemwide, multi-faceted project related to the federal stimulus legislation.

In addition, Dr. Olson served as president of Eastern Wyoming College from 2007 to 2008, where she led a strategic planning process and instituted a new organizational structure.

From 1995 to 2007, she served Northland Community & Technical College in several capacities including vice president of planning and administrative services, vice president of outreach and planning, and vice president of outreach and technology. Her many accomplishments included securing a $7.8 million capital bonding project, spearheading the revitalization of classroom space for a new degree program in Automated Systems Technology, facilitating the creation of Digi-Key University (a corporate college), and collaboratively developing several new programs including an Associate of Applied Science degree program in Electronic Technology and Robotic Technology, a new Associate of Science degree program for working adults in Manufacturing Technology, and several credit-based manufacturing certificates for working adults.

National recognition that Olson has received includes the Paul A. Elsner International Excellence in Leadership Award by the Chair Academy (2021), the Shirley B. Gordon Leadership Award of Distinction by the International Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society (2019), and the Entrepreneurial President of the Year Award by the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (2014).

Recent national board appointments include the International Leadership Advisory Board and the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship.

She holds a bachelor’s degree and a master’s from North Dakota State University, and a doctorate from the University of North Dakota.

Dr. Olson succeeds Sandra Kiddoo who has served as Northland’s president since 2021 and chose not to renew her contract.

About Northland Community & Technical College

Northland Community & Technical College (Northland) is a comprehensive college with campuses in East Grand Forks, Minnesota, and Thief River Falls, Minnesota. Northland also has an aerospace site in Thief River Falls, Minnesota, and campus extension sites in Roseau, Minnesota, and Warroad, Minnesota. Northland offers certificates, diplomas, transfer courses, and two-year degrees (A.A.S., A.S., A.A.) in more than 80 areas of study, workforce training, and education programs. Northland is a member of Minnesota State, the third-largest system of two-year colleges and four-year universities in the United States, and is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association. For more information about Northland Community & Technical College, visit


Minnesota State includes 26 community and technical colleges and seven state universities serving approximately 300,000 students. It is the third-largest system of two-year colleges and four-year universities in the United States.