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Incoming president produces anticipation

Anticipation and curiosity are the two main side effects of naming a new university president. The North Dakota Board of Higher Education named Dr. Richard McCallum the next president of Dickinson State University Wednesday afternoon. McCallum, c...

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Anticipation and curiosity are the two main side effects of naming a new university president.

The North Dakota Board of Higher Education named Dr. Richard McCallum the next president of Dickinson State University Wednesday afternoon. McCallum, currently serving as vice president for academic affairs at Missouri Southern State University, assumes the role this spring.

The announcement has DSU staff abuzz with excitement and eagerness to transition. Staff at McCallum's MSSU share in the enthusiasm.

"It's kind of our loss and your gain," said Doug Carnahan, MSSU dean of students. "He was just delightful to work with as a colleague."

Carnahan said he does not report directly to McCallum, but finds him to be personable and the kind of leader who takes the time to learn everyone's name.

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"He just always seems to be in a good mood, even with dealing with negative issues he can find the bright side," Carnahan said.

MSSU's director of the Institute of International Studies, Dr. Chad Stebbins, agrees with Carnahan's assessment.

"I think you'll find him to be one of the warmest and most caring people you could ever meet," Stebbins said. "He gives wonderful handshakes and personal greetings."

Stebbins said McCallum is definitely not a micromanager. He said McCallum holds periodic meetings to gather information rather than hand out directives.

"He's a very good spokesperson, and I would say that part of his management style is to provide lots of information, books and reading material to other people to develop their expertise in other areas," said Dr. Betsy Griffin, MSSU assistant vice president for academic affairs.

Griffin said McCallum allows his subordinates to express their own visions, while being a laid-back leader. Griffin said, though, she has not seen his positive attitude expressed as much as other colleagues have.

MSSU Athletic Director Sallie Beard said while her department does not report to McCallum, she has always had a cordial relationship with him.

"He is friendly and approachable," Beard said.

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Beard said McCallum occasionally attends athletic events and seems supportive of the program.

Stebbins, too, said McCallum is supportive of the international program.

"Diversity is another area he has worked on here," Stebbins said. "He has established a diversity task force, where we developed a mission statement and a plan of action to diversify our campus."

Stebbins and Carnahan said McCallum's biggest project at MSSU is helping the institution gear up for an accreditation coming up this spring.

"That has occupied really the bulk of his time the last two or three years," Stebbins said. "He has put a lot of emphasis on a program called the First Year Experience, which is designed to enrich the experiences that freshmen have at the institution."

Stebbins said the program is part of the Higher Learning Commission's upcoming accreditation visit.

Stepping up

"He seems presidential to me," Stebbins said. "He seems to have the qualities a university president should have. He's very articulate, very eloquent, a fantastic public speaker."

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Carnahan, too, said he could see McCallum in the role of president.

"We are in the midst of changing presidents ourselves down here, and he assumed, when our president left last summer, he assumed some additional responsibilities," Carnahan said. "As far as his leading the faculty and showing leadership, he stepped up in that. Yes, I think he can see the big picture and he knows the challenge of higher education."

Griffin said, however, the role of president is very different from that of vice president of academic affairs.

"I'm not sure how he'll be in that role," Griffin said.

Local buzz

"He knows the kind of school he's going to and the challenges and opportunities we have at such a school," said Dr. Rich Brauhn, DSU's vice president for academic affairs and arts and sciences dean. "I think it was a good choice, and I look forward to working with him."

Brauhn said he had the opportunity to sit in on an interview with McCallum, as well as attend a dinner with him.

"I was very impressed by his qualifications and background," Brauhn said. "He seems to be a very concerned individual about the quality of higher education."

Brauhn said McCallum hails from the Midwest and works in a similar university environment, so he should be a good fit for the campus and community.

During the interview process, McCallum completed case studies on the subjects of diversity and entrepreneurship. The directors of both multicultural affairs and the Strom Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation are eager to work with him.

"I'm excited," said Thy Yang, DSU's director of multicultural affairs.

Yang said she's pleased to hear the international program was a draw for McCallum.

Strom Center Director Jeanne MacDonald said his answer to the case study on entrepreneurship was very inclusive. MacDonald is hopeful the program can continue to grow under McCallum.

Theodore Roosevelt Honors Leadership Program Director Dr. Jon Brudvig said he has so far been impressed with McCallum's management style, saying he's a team builder and a good listener.

"Coming from the academic affairs side, they tend to be more democratic in their approach," Yang said.

Brudvig said McCallum's military background also intrigues him. The incoming president served as director of strategic outreach at the United States Army War College from 1994 until 2001.

"I think he brings skill as an academic and with very broad interests," Brudvig said. "I think he is somebody that will sustain programs that we currently have in place."

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