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ONLINE EXTRA: Chapman chosen to lead NDSU (The Forum, Jan. 15, 1999)

FARGO A neighbor will be taking over the reins at North Dakota State University: Joseph Chapman, provost at Montana State University, got the president's job Thursday. Chapman, 56, was the unanimous choice of the State Board of Higher Education a...


A neighbor will be taking over the reins at North Dakota State University: Joseph Chapman, provost at Montana State University, got the president's job Thursday.

Chapman, 56, was the unanimous choice of the State Board of Higher Education among three finalists for the position.

"I'm extremely pleased," board president Jack Hoeven said. As he polled the seven board members attending, a clear favorite emerged once deliberations ended. "They all said my candidate was Joe."

Larry Isaak, chancellor of the North Dakota University System, said Chapman stood out in an excellent field of candidates because of his experiences and the many similarities between the neighboring states' university systems.


"We're very excited about the broad breadth of experience that Dr. Chapman brings," Isaak said. "Quite frankly that broad depth of experience put him over the top."

Chapman is senior vice president and provost at Montana State, where he has wide responsibilities for academic and student affairs. "That became very, very clear to us on our campus visit at Montana State," Isaak said.

Board members were impressed with the great number of collaborative programs Chapman helped put together with other campuses.

"I know it was that factor that weighed heavily," Isaak said.

Chapman's selection capped seven months of searching and screening candidates to lead NDSU into the next century. The state board interviewed each of the three finalists in separate open sessions, each an hour and 45 minutes in length.

The board then convened in executive session, from 3:15 p.m. until about 5 p.m., after choosing Chapman. Half an hour later the board reconvened in open session to officially cast their unanimous ballot, and moments later Chapman signed a three-year contract, with an annual salary of $140,000, beginning July 1.

The other two finalists were Robert Kennedy, vice president of research and associate provost for graduate studies at Texas A&M University, and Fred Poston, vice provost and dean of agriculture and natural resources at Michigan State University.

"I think we had three absolutely excellent candidates," Isaak said.


After accepting the job, Chapman said: "I'm very excited. It seems like a wonderful fit for myself and my family. We feel like we've already made a lot of friends."

Students at Montana State had described Chapman as laid back, a style of leadership reporters asked him to elaborate.

"I hope that they mean that in a positive sense. I consider myself a people person."

Chapman said his early priorities will be to get out and meet with the university's varied constituencies, both on and off campus. He acknowledged that NDSU faces challenges, given tight budgets and a projected drop in high school graduates in North Dakota in the coming decade.

"It's going to require that we be innovative and collaborative," Chapman said. "We'll lead through collaboration."

Among his major accomplishments, Chapman said he has substantially increased research budgets from public and private sources. Montana State is finishing an initiative to boost faculty salaries over several years by 34 percent.

Chapman said he was instrumental in forming several research institutes, which combined resources from various academic and government agencies.

Chapman, whose career began as a wildlife biologist, does not describe himself as a manager who immerses himself in minutia, but instead works with his administrative team to set and reach goals.


"I would not characterize myself as a detail person," he told the board during his interview. "I'm a person who believes in getting good people and letting them do their job, but I'm not interested in doing their jobs."

Chapman said his office door is open to students and faculty, except when he is in a meeting.

Hoeven said Chapman's dedication was evident in the depth of support he had from students, faculty, legislators and industry groups throughout Montana.

"People drove 200, 300 miles" to meet with an NDSU search delegation visiting the Montana State campus, Hoeven said. One got caught in a blizzard, but called his endorsement in on a cellular phone. "They all hated to lose him, but they supported him. That's the kind of loyalty and following he has.

"I think he's going to fit awfully well."

Fargo Mayor Bruce Furness, who was chairman of the search committee, said all three finalists were outstanding, but that Chapman's background and experience made him the best choice for NDSU.

Again and again, groups characterized Chapman as a leader who strives for consensus and collaboration, Furness said.

"They were very, very positive about what he had done at Montana State University."


Chapman and his wife, Gale, are scheduled to appear at a public reception at 9 a.m. today in the alumni lounge at Memorial Union on the NDSU campus.

NDSU President Joseph A. Chapman

Education: Bachelor's degree, Oregon State University, 1965; master's, Oregon State University, 1967; PhD., Oregon State University, 1970.

Previous Positions: Senior vice president and provost, and professor of biology, Montana State University, 1998 to present; provost and vice president for academic affairs from 1996 to 1998 at Montana State; Dean, College of Natural Resources, Utah State University, 1989 to 1996; department head, fisheries and wildlife, 1983 to 1989, Utah State; head, Appalachian Environmental Laboratory, University of Maryland, 1974 to 1983; faculty member at University of Maryland since 1970.

The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and the Herald are Forum Communications Co. newspapers.

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