The presidents of BSU
BEMIDJI—Faith Hensrud will officially become the next president of BSU and Northwest Technical College on July 1, taking over for the retiring Richard Hanson. Hensrud will be the 11th president the university has had in nearly 100 years, since it was called the Bemidji Normal School and had just 38 students.
Here's everyone who has held the school's highest office:
Manfred W. Deputy, 1919-38
Deputy was known for giving low-income students money from his own pocket, and having them for dinner at his house. During his tenure the school's enrollment multiplied from 38 to about 500, and in 1921 its name was changed to Bemidji State Teachers College. The academic building from that time, which is now the administration building, is named after him.
NOTE: E.W. Beck, acting president, 1938
C.R. Sattgast, 1938-64
Bemidji State Teachers College expanded from 20 to 74 acres, and started offering liberal arts courses under its second president. Sattgast left for a few years to serve during World War II, and became a member of the Monuments Men, a group tasked with saving monuments and important artifacts from raids and destruction. He returned to office in 1946 and served longer than any president to date.
NOTE: A.C. Clark, acting president, 1942-46, 1964
Harry F. Bangsberg, 1964-1967
Bangsberg became president of Bemidji State College after studying and teaching history at schools across the Midwest. In 1967 he went to Vietnam with seven other educators from the United States to help improve the higher education system there. A few weeks before they were scheduled to return, the team's plane crashed in the mountains north of Da Nang, killing everyone aboard. Bangsberg's name was given to the fine arts building on campus.
NOTE: Bevington Reed, acting president, 1967
John S. Glas, acting president, 1967-68
R.D. Decker, 1968-1980
BSU got its current name under its fourth president. Decker presided over a time known as the "great expansion," during which eight buildings were constructed, three existing buildings were renovated, and enrollment hit an all-time high. Decker also introduced a litany of new programs including computer science, criminal justice, communication media and American Indian studies.
Rebecca Stafford, 1980-82
Stafford was the first—and until July 1—only woman to hold the office, and she did so for the shortest amount of time. Before coming to BSU she earned a bachelor's degree in sociology from Radcliffe College in Massachusetts, and a master's degree and doctoral degree (both in sociology) from Harvard. She resigned to become executive vice president of Colorado State University, Fort Collins.
NOTE: Richard R. Haugo, acting president, 1982
Lowell R. Gillett, 1982-90
Gillett was a teacher and coach in the public school system, and a professor and administrator at St. Cloud State University before he became BSU's sixth president. During his time in office the Gillett Recreation and Fitness Center was constructed, Pine Hall was renovated to accommodate single-parent students, and the Alumni Arch became the official gateway to campus.
Leslie C. Duly, 1990-93
Duly started at BSU as vice president of academic affairs. When he was named president he planned to spend a week living in Tamarack Hall, dining with students and listening to their concerns. Duly was known for scooping ice cream at socials and bringing cake to meetings. He also secured funding for a number of university programs, including summer camps for gifted Native American students. He died in office of a heart attack on May 8, 1993.
NOTE: Linda L. Baer, interim president, 1993-94
M. James Bensen, 1994-2001
A BSU graduate, Bensen became the school's eighth president by unanimous vote. Bemidji served as bookends to a career that also led Bensen to the Dunwoody Institute in Minneapolis, where he was president, and the University of Wisconsin-Stout, where he was dean of industry and technology. Bensen lives in the Bemidji area and continues to support STEM programs: science, technology, engineering and math.
Jon E. Quistgaard, 2001-10
Before he was president Quistgaard had stints as BSU's dean of graduate studies, associate vice president for academic affairs, and vice president for academic and student affairs. His tenure was marked by the development of a more diverse student body, which came to include students from more than 30 states and 40 countries. The school also drew an increasing number of adults and military veterans who wanted to continue their education.
Richard A. Hanson, 2010-present
Hanson's tenure has coincided with a strengthening relationship between BSU and Northwest Technical College, which share a president and select programs. He led a fundraising campaign that brought $35 million to the university over the past five years. And he presided over the first leg of construction for the University Heights student housing complex. Hanson last summer called the job "the best I've ever had," and the university "the best place I've ever been."