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NORTH DAKOTA HIGHER EDUCATION: Board chooses a new Lake Region president

DEVILS LAKE - Members of North Dakota's Board of Higher Education voted Wednesday to offer the presidency of Lake Region State College in Devils Lake to Mike Bower.

DEVILS LAKE - Members of North Dakota's Board of Higher Education voted Wednesday to offer the presidency of Lake Region State College in Devils Lake to Mike Bower.

Bower is executive dean for continuing education at Mott Community College in Flint, Mich., a multi-campus college with more than 10,000 students.

He will be paid $150,000 per year at Lake Region. He takes office July 1 and will have a three year contract.

The board chose Bower over one other finalist, Doug Darling, Lake Region's vice president for instructional services, a job he has had for about a decade.

During an interview with the board Wednesday, Bower stressed his history of working at smaller community colleges and his own educational background at the University of Nebraska, where he holds a Ph.D. in education administration

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"People say 'why would you want to go to a small college, when Mott is a big college in a big town?" he said. "But that was my concern when I went to Mott, because I had been in a smaller college setting. I want a college you can actually put your arms around, where you can get to know the faculty and the students, and the people within the community."

Bower said he specifically looked for community college presidencies in North Dakota because of his familiarity with Nebraska and other states in the region.

"I'm a cold weather kind of person," he said. "They say it's cold outside, but there are warm hearts inside."

Bower's own education began with an associate's degree in automotive technology, and he has significant work experience in the consumer electronics industry, as well as in teaching and administration.

Much of his interview with the board focused on the importance of technical education and retraining older workers with outdated skills. He often drew on his experiences in Michigan, where troubles in the auto industry have left many longtime workers, often without marketable skills, looking for new jobs.

Bower also was one of four finalists for the presidency of Illinois Valley Community College in Oglesby, where he interviewed Monday. After being named Lake Region's president Wednesday, Bower said he would withdraw from that search.

Bower will succeed retiring Lake Region President Sharon Etemad, who has logged more than 25 years at the school, about 20 of them as its chief executive.

The North Dakota University System is in the midst of a massive changing of the guards. Out of the system's 11 schools, three changed presidents in 2007 and four more will do so in 2008, including UND, where Robert Kelley will take office in July.

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Chancellor William Goetz, the system's chief executive, took office in May of last year.

By next year, only North Dakota State University in Fargo, Minot State University and its branch campus in Bottineau, and Williston State College will have leaders with more than a few years' experience in that role.

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