CROOKSTON, Minn. • Chancellor Mary Holz-Clause has will assume the role of acting executive chancellor for the University of Minnesota Crookston and Morris campuses for a two-year term.

This is in an effort to support Acting Chancellor Janet Ericksen of Morris. Morris Chancellor Michelle Behr, who has led the Morris campus for the past four years, recently announced her retirement that takes place in June, according to the university on Thursday, March 18.

“As you know, the headwinds in higher education are nothing short of historic. The pandemic, the economy, and enrollment challenges across Minnesota and nationwide are just a few of the challenges we face,” University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel said in a news release issued by the school.

“We must, now more than ever, find ways to focus on our academic mission while seeking opportunities to streamline our administrative and ‘back-office’ functions.”

As a result, Gabel notes, the University will wait until spring 2022 before conducting a search for the Morris campus’ next leader.

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To assist with the transition and to ensure continuity at the campus level, the school said Crookston Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs John Hoffman will serve as acting senior vice chancellor during this two-year period.

Both campuses have already collaborated closely, according to the school, creating innovative synergies to further share administrative service models, which already include a shared registrar and admissions team announced last month.

These efforts will continue under the leadership of Acting Chancellor Schrunk Ericksen and Acting Executive Chancellor Holz-Clause.

“Morris has a strong liberal arts tradition, while we focus on hands-on learning. This new sharing of leadership is a natural extension of the cohesive working collaboration between UMN Morris and UMN Crookston,” Holz-Clause said.

According to Holz-Clause, efforts will continue while honoring the campuses’ unique contributions to the school system and its respective communities.

The transition is not a step toward merging the Morris and Crookston campuses, nor their missions. “Those missions are distinct,” Gabel said. “I expect that this collaboration will further the creative innovative synergies that Morris and Crookston have initiated already. Those administrative efforts will continue.”