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UMM inaugurates Behr as chancellor (with video)

While the University of Minnesota Morris' new chancellor Michelle Behr has found her place at the university, she's ready to make needed changes in that place. This was the message shared by several speakers at Behr's inauguration on campus on Sept. 29.

UMM student Ruby DeBellis said Behr's time at UMM would transform the campus into a model for what it means to be a liberal arts campus in the 21st century.

And Behr is equipped to make that transformation, her longtime friends and colleagues said.

Behr has the insight, intelligence and passion to move the university into a 21st-century model of learning, said Richard Helldobler, the interim president of Northeastern Illinois University and Jacqueline Taylor, provost and vice president for academic affairs at The College of New Jersey.

Behr is dedicated to the liberal arts but also understands the university may need to adjust and change as she leads it forward, Taylor said.

Helldobler said UMM "And Michelle are fortunate to have each other as traveling companions."

Speakers, including Behr, cited the desire to maintain the university's liberal arts focus, academic excellence and the spirit of encouraging student leadership and entrepreneurship at UMM.

Behr said UMM's must maintain its place as a nationally recognized liberal arts institution, its place in its commitment toward indigenous people and its place in its commitment to diversity. It must also maintain its sense of place on the prairie in western Minnesota, Behr said.

But, while core values will be maintained, the university must be different from today, Behr said.

To University of Minnesota president Eric Kaler, Behr is the right person to take her place at UMM. Behr's experience in the academic world, her understanding of liberal arts, her background in anthropology and geology make her "uncommonly" ready to lead at UMM, he said.