Steven Shirley is the next president of Minot State University.
Shirley, a North Dakota native, has been the Valley City State University president for the past six years.
"I"m extremely excited," said Shirley, who will take office on July 1.
He said he will spend the next four months getting to know the campus and the community and will undoubtedly be working with the retiring MSU president David Fuller to transition into his new role.
During the interview process, Shirley received consistent praise from colleagues who described him as collaborative and sensitive and understanding to faculty concerns, since he had worked as a faculty member. He takes his time making decisions and so doesn't make many mistakes, according to one colleague. Another said Shirley is "really quite brilliant solving problems and seeing the future" and is wise beyond his years, according to Jessica Kozloff, a consultant who vetted the candidates for the presidential search committee. Shirley won over even hardened skeptics at Valley City, recieving praise for getting a study abroad program started at the small college, working well with other campuses in the university system, his experience in working with state legislators and being well liked and respected by other presidents at North Dakota colleges.
He was one of three finalists who were interviewed on Thursday by the state board of higher education. During the interview, board members commented on his energy and enthusiasm. Shirley spoke of his love for North Dakota and his desire to stay in the state. He said his family has ties to Minot and to the Lake Metigoshe area, where he has a lake cabin. Valley City State University has worked closely with Dakota College at Bottineau, a two-year college affiliated with Minot State, so he has working relationships with the people there, said Shirley. Shirley will also be president of Dakota College at Bottineau.
"We feel very good about our choice," said state board of higher education chair Kirsten Diederich.
Diederich said Shirley understands the culture of North Dakota, already knows state legislators and has built a relationship with them and will be able to move forward quickly. Those were the deciding factors in the board's choice of Shirley over the other two finalists who interviewed on Thursday, Lorrie Clemo, provost and vice president for academic affairs at the State University of New York at Oswego, and Martin Slann, dean of the college of arts and sciences at the University of Texas in Tyler.
"Dr. Shirley has already shown himself to be a strong leader and a great partner in higher education in North Dakota. I look forward to continuing to work with him as the president of Minot State," said Larry Skogen, interim chancellor of the North Dakota University System.
Shirley previously served as Vice President and Dean of Student Affairs at Dakota State University in Madison, S.D. and an assistant professor and Director of Study Abroad at the University of Minnesota, Crookston. He is a Fargo native with strong ties to the Minot community.
Shirley earned a Ph.D. in teaching and learning: higher education from the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks. He also holds a master of business administration degree (M.B.A.) with emphasis on marketing and global business and a bachelor's degree in business administration from the same university.
The vote was unanimous to offer Shirley a three-year contract, with a salary to be negotiated within the guidelines set by the board during an executive session. Shirley is to start work no later than July 1.
Current MSU president David Fuller will retire in June.