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Chancellor History

Rodney Briggs

Chief Administrator, 1960-69

Officially appointed as the West Central School of Agriculture's superintendent in 1959, Rodney Briggs also was assigned the responsibility of transforming the campus from an agricultural high school into a liberal arts college. Briggs was an ideal candidate for the position, given his long history with the University of Minnesota and his passion for the project at hand. He served as chief administrator from 1960 until 1969, first as dean of students and later as provost. In 1974 Morris’s library was named in his honor.

John Q. Imholte

Provost, Chancellor, 1969-85, 1985-90

One of Morris’s founding faculty members, John Q. Imholte began and ended his Morris career as a professor of history. As provost and as chancellor, Imholte guided Morris through its second and third decades, intensely focused on Morris’s liberal arts mission. He shaped the young school by maintaining and protecting the institution’s vision. In the early 1980s Imholte directed Morris through uncertain times in which the legislature and the University of Minnesota discussed closing the Morris campus because of university- and statewide budget concerns.

David C. Johnson

Chancellor, 1990-98

Known to students as “Chancellor Dave,” David C. Johnson stood out for his ability to tell Morris’s story, articulate its mission and vision, and share his pride in the accomplishments of students and alumni. Johnson led the lobbying charge to secure funding for the new science building and the new Regional Fitness Center during the 1998 legislative session. His efforts--along with those of the West Central Education Association, faculty, staff, students, and alumni--resulted in a record $28.2 million in funding.

Samuel Schuman

Acting Chancellor, Chancellor, 1998-2000, 2000-06

First as vice chancellor for academic affairs and later as chancellor, Samuel Schuman championed important campus causes as well as the idea of public liberal arts education. Schuman led the campus through more than $60 million in new construction as well as the $10-million Campaign Minnesota. He was instrumental in facilitating Cougar Athletics’ successful transition to National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III status. Schuman also led the effort to have the campus declared a national historic district.

Jacqueline Johnson

Chancellor, 2006-17

Jacqueline Johnson successfully encouraged the Morris campus to become stronger and more deliberate in its mission, to improve its visibility, and to increase its regional collaborations. During her tenure the campus experienced enrollment growth and increased its capacity to support students through donor-funded scholarships and other philanthropic gifts. Morris also made great progress in its facilities and established itself as a leader and a model sustainable community in the University of Minnesota system, in the state of Minnesota, and in the country.

Michelle Behr

Chancellor, 2017-present

Michelle Behr is the sixth chancellor of Morris, a position she has held since February 2017. She earned a baccalaureate degree in anthropology with honors from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and her master's and doctoral degrees from Arizona State University in anthropology and geography, respectively. Behr is a three-time Fulbright Scholar and was selected as an American Council on Education Fellow in 2005-06. She was most recently the Provost, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Dean of the College at Birmingham-Southern College in Birmingham, Alabama.