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A message from Chancellor Behr

The following message was sent to faculty, staff, and students on Tuesday, March 2, 2021: 

Colleagues and students,

I am writing today to inform you that I have notified University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel of my intention to retire at the end of June 2021.

Although with the gift of time I will no doubt be able to reflect more fully, from this vantage point I am proud of many things that we have accomplished together over the past several years. A few of these are top of mind:

  • A collaborative strategic vision and planning process, resulting in priorities that have set and will continue to guide our institutional course over the next several years;
  • A strategic enrollment management plan that reimagines and elevates purposeful coordination of student recruitment and retention across campus;
  • Successful reaffirmation of accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission, including new and meaningful assessment of student learning and a revised academic program review process;
  • Significant growth in our endowment and several record years of private giving;
  • Creation of the Student Assistance Grant for Emergencies (SAGE) fund; and
  • The launch of the search for our founding director of the Morris Challenge.

Higher education, as you all well know, is experiencing stressors emanating from many directions. We clearly are not immune, and I have no reasonable expectation these pressures will abate for at least the next few years. The UMN Morris community is unusually committed to this institution—a tremendous opportunity and also a challenge. My wish for UMN Morris is that the community, you all, work together and with purpose to preserve that which is distinctive and serves our students well, even as our student body and higher education evolve. I wish also that you endorse change that enriches our students’ educational pathways through and beyond UMN Morris and that will truly ensure that our campus is a model for 21st century liberal arts education.

There is seldom a perfect time for leadership transitions. But I am taking this step, confident that this is the right decision for the University of Minnesota Morris and for me. President Gabel has named Dean Janet Schrunk Ericksen UMN Morris’s acting chancellor, with support from UMN System partners. The president will communicate with the campus community soon to discuss the transitional period.

UMN Morris is, as I said when I arrived, “…a singular, fabulous place. At the same time, we can always think more intentionally, deeply, and creatively about what we do and how we do it…” I have every confidence that you all will rise to the challenges of this extraordinary place.

And students, I know that you will continue to work hand in hand with faculty and staff to make this institution the best it can be, to advocate enthusiastically for our university, and to forge a sustainable and optimistic future for us all, in Morris and beyond.

Michelle