Janet Schrunk Ericksen will stay on as chancellor of the University of Minnesota,Morris, after nearly two years leading it in an interim capacity.
Ericksen said she wasn't initially interested in the longer-term role but changed her mind. "I really thought we can't afford to lose momentum at this point, and I have good people to work with," she said.
The Morris campus is one of five in the University of Minnesota system. It often ranks high among public liberal arts schools but, like others across the nation, it has struggled with enrollment. It enrolls 1,068 students, down from 1,896 a decade ago, according to U data.
Ericksen, whose academic background is in early medieval English and Old Norse literature, began working on the Morris campus in 1998, when she was hired to be an assistant professor. She has held multiple leadership roles on the campus and began working as interim chancellor in July 2021 . She led the university during a portion of the pandemic and during the aftermath of then-Regent Steve Sviggum's comments questioning if the campus had become "too diverse" from a marketing perspective.
Regents voted unanimously Friday to approve Ericksen's appointment. University of Minnesota Twin Cities President Joan Gabel described Ericksen as someone who brings incredible experience, "deep thoughts" and "just general fabulousness" to the role.
Ericksen said this appointment will allow her to begin developing a longer-term plan for addressing the campus' challenges. The university has been building programs that allow more students to graduate in three years. Ericksen pitched regents this week on a pilot program that would provide additional financial aid to Morris students who want to take summer classes. Regents are expected to discuss that program and other tuition decisions as they settle on a budget next month.
"I believe in it," Ericksen said of the Morris campus. "I really, passionately believe in what we are doing there."