Minnesota State seeks a visionary and inspirational higher education leader for what is the largest and most diverse provider of higher education in Minnesota, and the third-largest system of colleges and universities in the United States.
Minnesota State is a diverse and vibrant network of 26 colleges and seven state universities that provides a safe and inclusive environment for all students, faculty, and staff. We are committed to Equity 2030, a systemwide shared vision to close the educational equity gaps at all Minnesota State colleges and universities by the year 2030.
The next Chancellor will be joining the Minnesota State system at a pivotal time, requiring a leader who is able to transform public higher education while focusing on student success to meet the needs of a rapidly changing society. In addition, our next leader will encourage and honor the innovation and dynamism of the individual colleges and universities and foster their collective vivacity while also harnessing the power of operating as a system.
The successful candidate will have significant experience in a mission-driven, complex organization, a demonstrated record of leading transformative change and financial sustainability efforts, and an entrepreneurial mindset to support new approaches for meeting the changing needs of the state. They will be a champion for equity and inclusion; and will be a collaborative leader with humility and integrity, who can set the strategic vision for Minnesota State. The ideal candidate will have proven experience in marshalling the combined assets of a system to serve students and the state.
In this rapidly changing world, there are many challenges and opportunities ahead for the next generation of Minnesota State students. The Board of Trustees seeks an equity-minded and transformational leader who will leverage the strengths of the entire Minnesota State system to maximize the role of public higher education in successfully addressing those challenges on behalf of students and realizing opportunities for the state of Minnesota and beyond.
Find the print version of the Chancellor Search.
Dr. Olson has served as president of Winona State University (MN) since 2012. Under his leadership, and through the hard work of the faculty, staff, and administration, Winona State has earned a reputation for academic excellence and has become known for delivering high rates of student success. The university has appeared in several regional rankings including the “Top 40 institutions in the Midwest” by U.S. News, the “Best Colleges in the Midwest” by the Princeton Review, and several others.
Throughout his 20-year career in the Minnesota State system, Dr. Olson has been a leader in major strategic initiatives, including development of the Centers of Excellence, transfer pathways, NextGen, and Equity 2030. He is an advocate for both system-level solutions and the need for campus autonomy to meet local needs.
Dr. Olson is also known as a strong advocate for advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion. Under his leadership, WSU increased enrollment of students of color by 95 percent, cut outcome gaps almost in half, and achieved the highest success rates of students of color among the colleges and universities of Minnesota State.
Other highlights of his tenure at Winona State include the completion of several strategic initiatives, including Education Village, a multi-year capital project to provide integrated, flexible, state-of-the-art learning and teaching spaces for students, teachers and school professionals; co-hosting the Winona Mini-Session of the Minnesota House of Representatives; and the Leading Energy Savings & Sustainability (LESS) initiative, a $12 million campus-wide project that addressed $7.5 million in deferred maintenance, and will save $26 million over the project’s lifetime.
Prior to his appointment to WSU, Dr. Olson served Minnesota State University, Mankato as provost and vice president for academic and student affairs from 2003 to 2012. He also served the Minnesota State system office as interim vice chancellor for academic and student affairs for 13 months from 2010 to 2011. Previous engagements include Ball State University (IN) between 1998 and 2003, and Central Connecticut State University between 1985 and 1998.
Dr. Olson holds a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, and a doctorate from Northwestern University (IL).
Olson will succeed Devinder Malhotra who has served as chancellor of Minnesota State since 2017 and has announced his intention to retire, effective July 31, 2023.
See Dr. Olson's curriculum vitae.
Minnesota State held a press conference on May 9, 2023 to announce the next chancellor. Here are full resolution photos of the announcement.
Contact Doug Anderson (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have questions about the use of these photos.
Position And Process
At Minnesota State, we provide the opportunity for all Minnesotans to create a better future for themselves, for their families, and for their communities through access to affordable higher education.
With 26 community and technical colleges and seven state universities on 54 campuses, Minnesota State is the workforce engine for Minnesota, serving nearly two-thirds of the entire state’s undergraduate student population.
We are committed to equitable outcomes for all our students, and in 2019 pledged to eliminate educational equity gaps at every Minnesota State college and university by the year 2030. Achieving this goal, called Equity 2030, is both a moral and economic imperative for our state.
As our population continues to grow more diverse, it will ensure Minnesota has the workforce it needs for generations to come.Minnesota State employs more than 14,400 people, most of whom are represented by one of several bargaining units and personnel plans. The bargaining units include:
- Inter Faculty Organization
- Minnesota State College Faculty
- Minnesota State University Association of Administrative and Service Faculty
- American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees
- Minnesota Association of Professional Employees
- Minnesota Government Engineers Council
- Middle Management Association
- Minnesota Nurses Association
The 15-member Board of Trustees of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities is appointed by the Governor and has policy responsibility for system planning, academic programs, fiscal management, personnel, admissions requirements, tuition and fees, and rules and regulations. Learn more at MinnState.edu/board.
The chancellor serves as the executive officer of this $2 billion public enterprise, directly reporting to the governor-appointed Board of Trustees. The role has full executive responsibility for providing effective management, operations, and educational leadership to the 33 colleges and universities of Minnesota State, ensuring that the system meets the current and long-term educational and workforce development needs of all Minnesotans.
The Chancellor’s responsibilities include implementing board policy; providing for academic leadership; recommending operating and capital budgets; recommending allocation of resources; planning; oversight of collective bargaining; providing information systems; management of personnel resources; direct supervision and annual evaluation of the 30 presidents and chancellor’s cabinet. Learn more at MinnState.edu/system/chancellor.
- An understanding of the value and unique missions of the system’s community colleges, technical colleges, comprehensive colleges, and state universities, along with the shared mission of the enterprise
- An understanding of the unique attributes of higher education and the current opportunities and challenges facing public higher education in Minnesota and nationally
- Demonstrated commitment to serving students and leading an enterprise dedicated to student success
Proven experience of strategic and inclusive planning with the ability to anticipate, evaluate, and adapt to changing conditions through innovation
- Demonstrated ability to lead, communicate, and execute change in a large, complex organization
- Demonstrated ability to establish strong relationships and deliver a compelling message with local, state, and federal government officials, business, philanthropic and community leaders, and other diverse constituencies to support students, champion Minnesota State, and advance programs and services that support workforce and economic development
- Demonstrated commitment to public service and public education
- An experienced leader in advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion, and establishing working and learning environments of trust and mutual respect
- A demonstrated record of financial acumen and ability to effectively manage human, fiscal, and capital resources
- Proven success in working with a governing board
- A demonstrated understanding and ability to work effectively in an unionized environment
- Ability to collaborate with key stakeholders to develop strategic goals and allocate resources across Minnesota State to achieve those goals
- Demonstrated effective leadership with strong emphasis on accountability for results
- Experience in a multi-location, geographically dispersed operating environment
- A record of working with the highest level of integrity, exceptional interpersonal skills, strong influencing skills, high degree of self-awareness, and empathy
- An earned doctorate or terminal degree
Benefits and Compensation
The position is covered by the Minnesota State Administrators plan: MinnState.edu/system/working.
The chancellor’s office is located in the system office in downtown St. Paul. Statewide travel is required.
Search Advisory Committee
Pam Wheelock, Co-chair
George Soule, Co-chair
Board of Trustees
President, Minnesota State Community and Technical College
President, Minnesota State Policy Committee, AFSCME
President, Normandale Community College
Former Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, State Senator, and President of National Farmers Union
Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs
President, Southwest Minnesota State University
Executive Director, MMA
President and CEO, Blandin Foundation
President, Minnesota North College
Chief of Staff
President and CEO, HealthPartners
State Chair, Students United
December 15, 2022 Search Advisory Committee appointed
January 9, 2023 Advertising begins
February 21, 2023 Deadline for full application consideration
Mid-March, 2023 Confidential first round of interviews with select candidates
Week of April 24, 2023 Public announcement of finalists and finalist interviews
April 27, 2023 Finalists will participate in hosted open forums
May, 2023 Board Meeting to appoint the next Chancellor
August 1, 2023 Contract start date
Finalists And Forums
Dr. Tonjanita (Tonja) Johnson
Dr. Johnson has served the University of Alabama System since 2019 as senior vice chancellor for academic and student affairs. Previously, she served the University of Tennessee System as the executive vice president/chief operating officer from 2016 to 2019 and as vice president for communications and marketing from 2013 to 2016. Previous engagements include serving the State University of New York at Stony Brook as chief deputy to the president from 2010 to 2013, Middle Tennessee State University as associate vice president for marketing and communications from 2008 to 2010, and Mississippi Valley State University from 2001 to 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree and a master’s from the University of Alabama and a doctorate from Jackson State University (MS).
See Dr. Johnson's curriculum vitae.
Dr. Scott Olson
Dr. Olson has served as president of Winona State University (MN) since 2012. Previously, he served Minnesota State University, Mankato as provost and vice president for academic and student affairs from 2003 to 2012. He also served the Minnesota State system office as interim vice chancellor for academic and student affairs for 13 months from 2010 to 2011. Previous engagements include Ball State University (IN) as dean of the College of Communication, Information, and Media from 1998 to 2003, and Central Connecticut State University as a professor and then administrator between 1985 and 1998. He holds a bachelor’s degree, a master’s, and a doctorate from Northwestern University (IL).
See Dr. Olson's curriculum vitae.
The Board of Trustees will begin the final process of selecting the next Minnesota State chancellor on Wednesday, April 26 with a series of in-person interviews. On Thursday, April 27 you are invited to attend open forums either in person or via Zoom beginning at 9:00 a.m. and concluding at 11:15 a.m. Each finalist will have an opportunity to introduce themselves and share some thoughts on how Minnesota State, as the third largest system of state colleges and universities in the nation, best demonstrates the value and relevance of public higher education for meeting the current and future needs of our students and the Minnesota economy. This short presentation will be followed by a question and answer period. If attending in person, the Open Forums will be held at the system office in conference room 3304/3306, Wells Fargo Place Atrium.
Open Forum for Dr. Johnson
April 27, 2023
9:00 - 10:00am
Conference Room 3304/06
Facilitator: President Peaslee
Hosts: Deb Gehrke and Toni Munos
Open Forum for Dr. Olson
April 27, 2023
10:15 - 11:15am
Conference Room 3304/06
Facilitator: President Peaslee
Hosts: Deb Gehrke and Toni Munos