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Cali Owings, Published March 27 2014

MSUM presidential finalists named

ST. PAUL – The search committee for Minnesota State University Moorhead’s next president named three semifinalists Thursday.

The candidates are Anne Blackhurst, current MSUM provost; Sam Minner, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Radford (Va.) University; and Carlos Vargas-Aburto, Kutztown University of Pennsylvania’s provost and vice president for academic and student affairs.

The three finalists will be on campus Monday through Wednesday for meetings with students, staff, faculty and the public before the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities’ board of trustees makes a final decision April 23.

Current President Edna Szymanski, who came to MSUM in 2008, will retire at the end of June. The new president is expected to start in July.

Blackhurst has been provost at the school since 2011. Previously, she was at Minnesota State University Mankato, another MnSCU four-year college, for 11 years. She served in various academic and administrative roles, including acting vice president for academic and student affairs and dean of graduate studies and research.

Blackhurst earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Boise (Idaho) State University, a master’s degree in counseling from the College of Idaho in Caldwell, and a doctorate in college student personnel from Ohio University in Athens. Her campus visit day is scheduled for Monday.

Before his current position as provost at Kutztown University, Vargas-Aburto was provost and vice president for academic affairs at Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio. He also held several academic leadership roles at Kent State University.

Vargas-Aburto’s background is in physics. He holds a bachelor’s degree in physics from the National University of Mexico, and a master’s in aerospace science, a master’s in physics, and a doctorate in physics and aerospace science from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

His visit is schedule for Tuesday.

Minner has held his provost position at Radford since 2011. Before that, he was the dean of the school of health sciences and education from 2000 to 2011 at Truman State University in Kirksville, Mo. His background is in special education, with a bachelor’s degree in elementary and special education and a master’s in learning and behavior disorders from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. He also holds a doctorate in cognitive and behavioral disabilities from the University of Arizona in Tucson. He will visit the Moorhead campus Wednesday.

The candidates were recommended by a search committee chaired by Bemidji State University President Dick Hanson.

The MSUM presidential candidate forums are from 1 to 2 p.m. Monday through Wednesday at the Gaede Stage, Center for the Arts.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Cali Owings at (701) 241-5599