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St. Cloud State University president killed in car crash

ST. CLOUD -- The president of St. Cloud State University was killed in rollover crash late Monday afternoon. Earl H. Potter III, 69, died while traveling to the Twin Cities for a meeting with the Foundation Board Chair, according to a statement o...

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Earl H. Potter III

ST. CLOUD -- The president of St. Cloud State University was killed in rollover crash late Monday afternoon.

Earl H. Potter III, 69, died while traveling to the Twin Cities for a meeting with the Foundation Board Chair, according to a statement on the university’s website.

Potter was driving a Toyota 4 Runner eastbound on Interstate 694 in Brooklyn Center when it went off the road and hit a guard rail, the Minnesota State Patrol said. The vehicle overcorrected into the center lane and almost hit another vehicle, overcorrecting again before flipping multiple times.

“Earl’s passing is a huge loss to SCSU, to the state of Minnesota, and to higher education,” Chancellor Steven J. Rosenstone of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System said in a statement. “His leadership, on so many fronts, will be missed. Earl was a colleague and a friend – a thoughtful, insightful leader – who cared deeply about the university, its students, and the St. Cloud Community.  I know he was deeply respected on your campus, as well, and my condolences go out to you all.”

Potter had a knack for making connections between university and city, its people, its businesses and its institutions, St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis said.

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“He said many times that the city doesn’t do well unless the university does well and the university doesn’t do well unless the city does well,” Kleis said. “He understood that and he always made sure he invited me to make sure I spoke at every graduation, despite the fact that I had terrible jokes. He always asked me back.”

Kleis was there at the most recent graduation. It was the last time he spent significant time with Potter. They shook hands with graduates, listened to their stories of success and accomplishment.

“I say this often when I talk, that it’s one of the best town-and-gown relationships, I think, in the country,’ Kleis said. “We’ve partnered on a number of things. It’s been a collaborative effort. Earl certainly will be missed, as a friend and a partner. It leaves a big hole, not only that connection but the commitment that has been strengthened throughout the whole organization. So that piece will continue because of his efforts and his leadership.”

Gov. Mark Dayton sent out a statement early Tuesday on Potter’s passing.

“It is with deep sorrow that I learned late last night of the tragic death of St. Cloud State University President Earl Potter. President Potter accompanied me on all four of my international trade missions, as he sought to find new students for the university and to expand educational opportunities for St. Cloud State's present students,” the statement read. “We worked together on several other projects benefitting the University. He loved St. Cloud State University, and he loved the students, faculty, and staff with whom he worked. I extend my deepest condolences to all of them and to his family for their terrible loss.”


St. Cloud Times reporter David Unze contributed to this report.

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