University Relations and Communications

MSU Billings chancellor search committee narrows work down to three finalists

October 6, 2010



Dr. Stacy Klippenstein, Search Committee Co-Chair, 657-2307
Dan Carter, University Relations, 657-2269


University interviews will take place by the end of this month


MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — A local search committee has narrowed down a list of finalists for the next chancellor at Montana State University Billings to three finalists.


The three finalists are:

  • Dr. Rolf Groseth, interim chancellor at MSU Billings
  • Dr. Sally Johnstone, current provost and vice president for academic affairs at Winona State University, in Winona, Minn.
  • Dr. Linda Rinker, current provost and vice president for academic affairs at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, Conn.

Rolf GrosethGroseth has been serving as interim chancellor at MSU Billings since July. Before arriving in Billings, he was serving as vice president for inter-campus affairs at Montana State University in Bozeman and was interim chancellor at MSU Northern in Havre from January 2008 to August 2009.  As the inter-campus affairs vice president, Groseth worked to provide coordination among executive officers on the Bozeman, Billings, Great Falls and Northern campuses of the MSU system, the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education and the Montana Board of Regents. He has worked as executive assistant to the MSU President from 1994 to 2004 and has student affairs experience when he worked at the University of Florida and Georgetown University.


Sally JohnstoneJohnstone has been the academic leader at Winona State University since 2006. From 1989 to 2006, she was executive director of the Western Cooperative for Educational Telecommunications (WCET) at the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) in Boulder, Colo.  She has experience with two-year and four-year institutions and since joining the staff of Winona State University, she has facilitated the creation of a four-university consortium to deliver doctoral programs in the field of nursing practice (DNP) that is delivered on-line. While at WCET, she gained experience working with the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education and the Montana Legislature.


Linda RinkerRinker has been serving as the academic vice president at Western Connecticut State University since 2006. WCSU is a two-campus university serving both undergraduate and graduate students with an enrollment of about 6,200 students. She has 30 years of leadership experience in higher education and prior to her work at WCSU, she served as provost at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania. Among the current projects at WSCU is the Bridges Project, a partnership between the university and area public schools designed to assist high school students to achieve success in math, writing and science to reduce remedial course work for these students.



The 16-member search committee — representing students, faculty, staff, administration, policymakers and community supporters — selected the three finalists after paring down a list of more than 80 applicants and conducting a series of phone interviews over the course of last week. The committee started the search process in May. The group’s recommendations on the next chancellor will eventually be made to MSU President Dr. Waded Cruzado.


The next chancellor will be the successor to Dr. Ron Sexton, who retired in August. Sexton served as chancellor since Eastern Montana College transformed into MSU Billings under a statewide reorganization in 1994.  He is now working on a new scholarship campaign for the MSU Billings Foundation.


Dr. Stacy Klippenstein, vice chancellor for student affairs at MSU Billings and committee co-chair, said the process yielded a strong field of candidates to lead MSU Billings.


“We are excited about the breadth of knowledge, academic leadership and experience these three candidates bring to the table,” Klippenstein said. “As a committee, there was no doubt that Dr. Johnstone, Dr. Rinker and Dr. Groseth would bring their own set of experiences and abilities to the university and could lead us in the future,”


Klippenstein praised the committee for “an outstanding job of reviewing over 80 applicants, narrowing the rich pool down to an initial nine, and then lending their insights to help select the top three.”


On-campus interview schedules for each candidate will be established soon. Klippenstein said the next step in the process will allow Billings and university constituents to meet and discuss the future of MSU Billings with each candidate.  The search process is anticipated to end by the Oct. 29. 


President Waded Cruzado will also meet with each candidate and weigh the recommendations from the search committee prior to making a final decision and extending an offer, Klippenstein said.


“Overall, we were very pleased with the process and quality of candidates,” he said. “Receiving more than 80 applicants speaks well to the stability of MSU Billings and its bright future serving Montana and the Billings community.”


Located in the state’s largest city, MSU Billings is a comprehensive regional university with an enrollment of more than 5,300 students. It has more than 160 academic programs in five colleges that provide certificate, two-year, four-year and master’s degree education.


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