Ron Wood likely to become interim president of Southwest Minnesota State University
WORTHINGTON -- Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Chancellor James H. McCormick will recommend Ron Wood, former president of Minnesota West Community and Technical College, to serve as interim president of Southwest Minnesota State University, Marshall.
The MNSCU Board of Trustees will likely act on the recommendation at its Wednesday meeting.
"This is really an exciting time for the whole southwest region, because what MNSCU is doing is trying to see that we ... maintain a high level of quality both at the two-year level and at the university level," Wood said. "I believe it's absolutely imperative for the economic health of our region to have both institutions very strong and very healthy."
Wood has already decided to accept the one-year appointment, with a July 1 start date, if it is offered.
He will remain an alderman on the Worthington City Council and intends to continue coaching golf at Worthington High School this spring, but would no longer teach online courses or coach Minnesota West's golf team.
Wood was nominated for the interim position months ago, and was asked to send an updated resume with a letter of interest. He met with the office of the chancellor to discuss the issue again about two weeks ago.
"I think that there's some real logic to the selection. I understand higher education in southwest Minnesota, and I know an awful lot of individuals in the communities throughout southwest Minnesota, including Marshall," Wood said. "I come in with a knowledge basis that's pretty strong ... and I think it doesn't hurt that (I have) 10 years of experience as a college president."
Wood's appointment comes while a study designed to identify regional higher education programs and services and re-examine the possibility of SMSU consolidating, aligning or altering its relationship with Minnesota West is under way.
The study was prompted by changing market conditions in the region as well as the upcoming June 30 retirement of outgoing SMSU President David Danahar.
"There are some natural things that the two institutions could obviously do (together) that would be a cost benefit, given the state of the state... and what we're seeing the legislature talk about for funding for MNSCU," Wood said. "And I think I'm a natural person to bounce things off of, with respect to what might be a good positive alignment."
Wood expects finances and the brevity of his contract will be the most difficult challenges as interim president. He hopes to assist SMSU and Minnesota West in developing a process to make whatever changes the study recommends.
Wood was president of Minnesota West for 10 years. Previously, he served as chief academic officer at Laramie County Community College in Wyoming, held positions at Frederick Community College, Maryland and was a mathematical statistician at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
He received a degree in mathematics and economics from Western Maryland College, a master's in economics from Washington University in St. Louis and a Ph.D. in consumer economics from the University of Maryland.