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MSUM reorganizing administration

Minnesota State University Moorhead President Edna Szymanski has announced changes to her leadership team.

Bette Midgarden, vice president for academic affairs, has decided to go on sabbatical leave after spring semester and will return to the faculty in fall 2011.

Dan Kirk, vice president for administration and facilities, will retire in October.

Szymanski said new presidents often make changes to their administration. It took her 1½ years because the campus was dealing with a budget deficit and the flood, she said.

"I'm really grateful for the people who were with me last year," she said.

Szymanski wants to reconfigure the vice president for academic affairs role to a new provost position.

The new structure will bring together student affairs and academic affairs, two divisions focused on students, Szymanski said.

A national search for the new provost position will begin early this semester.

Midgarden has served as vice president for 16 years. A call to her office seeking comment was referred to the campus spokesman. Midgarden will join the math faculty.

Cindy Phillips, president of the faculty union, said faculty members understand that Midgarden has served in that role for a long time.

"I think everybody is grateful to Bette for her service and understands that she might like to go back to teaching," Phillips said.

A national search for the vice president for administration and facilities won't begin until fall at the earliest because Szymanski doesn't want both searches ongoing at the same time.

Kirk has been at MSUM for four years.

"I'm very excited about the future and my decision to retire," Kirk said. "But it's with sadness that I would leave the university."

Budget Director Jean Hollaar has been appointed interim vice president for finance and administrative services.

Szymanski, who informed the campus of the changes in a letter last week, said she is configuring her leadership team for the future challenges of the university.

Other universities often see turnover under a new president, she said.

At the University of North Dakota, President Bob Kelley saw turnover of five of six vice presidents in his first year.

Szymanski also has appointed a transition team to examine the campus structure.