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Linda Krug, left, one of five semifinalists for president of Bemidji State University and Northwest Technical College, speaks at a public forum at BSU on Thursday. Krug is currently on sabbatical as dean of the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper
Linda Krug, left, one of five semifinalists for president of Bemidji State University and Northwest Technical College, speaks at a public forum at BSU on Thursday. Krug is currently on sabbatical as dean of the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper

BSU-NTC presidential candidate gives insight on higher education

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In order to steer higher education in the right direction one should assume the role of a captain who must maneuver a 1,000-foot ore boat in and out of the Duluth-Superior Harbor, according to Linda Krug.

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"The captain knows there is no room for error," Klug said, who has been at the University of Minnesota-Duluth for 24 years. "You must be nimble."

Krug gave a 20-minute presentation titled, "Higher Education at a Crossroads" Thursday afternoon on the first day of her two-day visit to Bemidji State University and Northwest Technical College.

She is the first of five candidates in the running for president of BSU and NTC to present at a public forum on campus.

Currently on sabbatical after an 11-year tenure as dean of the College of Liberal Arts at UMD, Krug has played many several key administrative roles. She has been the chair of UMD's Department of Women's Studies and the Department of Communication, served two terms as interim director of UMD's International Education Office and was director of the school's interdisciplinary studies program.

More notably, she's seen northern Minnesota weather - and likes it.

"I like what I see here," Krug said. "I think that (BSU) and (NTC) are well-position for moving forward in the future. It's a 'gem' of a university and technical college. It's in a beautiful place and that's important to me."

Krug earned her bachelor's degree in speech communication and a master's degree in rhetoric, both from the University of Miami (Ohio). She earned her doctorate in socio-political influence of language at the University of Nebraska in 1987.

In her presentation, Krug talked of limited state funding and Gov. Pawlenty's recent budget cuts and their impact on higher education.

"We've come to think of a college education as a private good, meaning if you want it, you pay for it. If it's not looked at as a public good, something the state should support, state dollars don't go our way," she said.

Krug expressed her concerns over students struggling to keep up with tuition increases and taking longer to graduate.

"I was appalled when I learned that a student who spends four years at UMD, wasn't likely to graduate," Krug said. "Only 28 percent of our students graduate in four years. In six years, it's almost 48 percent."

Krug's strategy to overcoming challenges in tough economic times was simple - think differently. In her presentation and question-and-answer session, Krug touched on ways she would make BSU-NTC "think differently."

She talked of sharpening the mission of both institutions, learning how to better sell the liberal arts programs and removing roadblocks so students can graduate in a timely matter.

"It could be fixing the transfer curriculum, better advising or something as simple as reminding (students) that graduating in four years is a math thing - they only need so many credits to graduate," Krug said. "It's even looking at three-year degrees."

Krug emphasized the importance of community involvement. In Duluth, she said, she thinks of her students as citizens of the community.

"If we want to be different and go forward, there has to be collaboration," Krug said. "It's going into the community and saying, 'We have expertise. We want to fix your problems.'"

While she was impressed with BSU's alliance with NTC, the university's strategic planning and the foresight of both institutions, Krug said she also saw things that both institutions could improve.

"Your graduation rates aren't the greatest, as well as your retention rates and internationalization," Krug said. "There needs to be more diversity and working with the community."

Next public forum

Presidential semifinalist Betsy Vogel Boze, senior fellow at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, will make a presentation and answer questions from 2:15-3 p.m. Monday, April 12, in Room 100 of Bridgeman Hall.

After all five semifinalists have completed their on-site interviews and public forums, the Search Advisory Committee will make a recommendation to Minnesota State Colleges and Universities' Chancellor James McCormick by April 26.

For information on the BSU-NTC presidential search, visit www.bemidjistate.edu/president_search.

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