Manfred W. Deputy, 1919-1938
Deputy moved to Bemidji in 1919, and started Bemidji State College. During Deputy’s presidency, peak enrollment was 537 during the summer session of school in 1924. During the Deputy era, the school had three main buildings: an academic building, a dormitory and a heating plant. The academic building was the main building and is now known as Deputy Hall. He served as president for 19 years until mandatory retirement.
C.R. Sattgast, 1938-1964
Along with being a World War II veteran, Sattgast is best known for the science building named after him. During his tenure, Bemidji State expanded from a teachers college to one offering liberal arts and graduate studies. Additionally, the campus grew from 20 to 74 acres, making way for science, physical education, industry, arts and dormitory buildings. Enrollment was down near the 200s due in large part to World War II. By October of 1944, 360 students and faculty members were serving in the war. Sattgast took leave from the college in 1943 and served in the war until returning in 1946.
Harry F. Bangsberg, 1964-1967
In 1967, Bangsberg took a tour of Vietnam with seven other U.S. educators. The group was determined to assist the government of Vietnam in developing a higher education system. Bangsberg was on leave from Bemidji State for two months to Saigon. On March 23, 1967, a few weeks before their return home, the plane crashed in the mountains north of Da Nang. Bangsberg is honored through the Bangsberg Fine Arts building located on campus.
R.D. Decker, 1968-1980
Decker was influential in what was considered the “great expansion” on campus. Eight buildings were built, three existing buildings were renovated, and the enrollment hit an all-time high of 5,787 students. He introduced a wide variety of new programs at the school, including computer science, criminal justice, technical illustration/graphic design, communication media, and American Indian studies. After retiring as president, Decker resumed teaching for about nine years, until deciding to run for State Senate, where he served until 1990.
Rebecca Stafford, 1980-1981
Stafford served as president of BSU from April 9, 1980 to December 16, 1981. Following her resignation, Stafford announced she accepted the position of Executive Vice President of Colorado State University.
Lowell R. “Ted” Gillett, 1982-1990
Gillett’s time as president was highlighted by student-centered construction and renovation projects. One of his constructions was the building of the Gillett Recreation and Fitness Center (now the Gillett Wellness Center), which is named in his honor. Gillett was also successful in renovating Pine Hall into apartments for students who were single parents. Also, the Alumni Arch outside of Deputy Hall was established, which has become the university’s most distinguished landmark and serves as the unofficial gateway to campus.
Leslie C. Duly, 1990-1993
Duly started as the Vice President of Academic Affairs. After he became president on July 1, 1990, Duly said he wanted to spend a week living in Tamarack Hall, dining with students at Walnut Hall and listening to their concerns. Under Duly’s presidency, BSU was listed as the highest-ranked Minnesota State University in America’s Best Colleges. Duly died of a heart attack on May 8, 1993. The school held a memorial service where many people reminisced about all the great things Duly had accomplished at the school.
M. James Bensen, 1994-2001
Bensen was named the eighth permanent president of the university. He graduated from Bemidji State with a degree in Industrial Education and Physical Education. Prior to serving Bemidji State University, Bensen served as president at Dunwoody Institute, a private, non-profit school in Minneapolis. He had also served as the Dean of the School of Industry and Technology at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. After retiring from BSU, he became President Emeritus.
Jon E. Quistgaard, 2001-2010
Prior to his presidency, Quistgaard served as Dean of Graduate Studies, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs and Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs. During his tenure at Bemidji State, there were major changes in technology, enrollment, funding and diversity. Most notably, the school diversified to include students from more than 30 states and 40 countries. Quistgaard recalls seeing more adults and military veterans seeking opportunities to further their education during his tenure.
Richard A. Hanson, 2010-2016
Among his accomplishments, Hanson implemented a broad restructuring of course offerings at Bemidji State University and Northwest Technical College in an effort to adapt to current market conditions, resulting in an increased competitiveness for both institutions. With the help of the student body, Hanson implemented a tobacco-free policy on both campuses. In addition, he founded the Bemidji School of Nursing, coordinating the instructional efforts of both NTC and BSU.
Faith Hensrud, 2016-present
Faith Hensrud became the 11th permanent president of BSU on July 1, 2016. Her career in higher education spans more than two decades and includes teaching and administrative roles at the University of Wisconsin-Superior and Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College, also in Superior. Hensrud is also a U.S. Army veteran. She served on active duty with the 24th Transportation Battalion at Ft. Eustis, Va., from 1986-89 and as a member of the U.S. Army Reserve from 1989-2000.
E.W. Beck (1938)
Beck was acting president for the month of January after President Deputy served his last day on Dec. 31, 1937. Beck was a faculty member of Bemidji State prior to his month as acting president before President Sattgast came into office Feb. 1 of 1938.
A.C. Clark (1942-1946, 1964)
Clark was the acting president for Charles Sattgast as he was on leave during WWII from 1942-1946 and also after Sattgast’s death from April 1 to Sept. 1, 1964. While at Bemidji State, Clark served as a social science instructor, chairman in the division of social sciences, director of publicity, placement, and public relations and vice president.
Bevington Reed (1967)
Reed did not hold a permanent position at Bemidji State. He only served as a very brief interim president after the death of President Bangsberg. During his time as president, he also had Bangsberg’s assistant John Glas serve as the Campus Executive Officer to handle the campus matters.
John S. Glas (1967-1968)
Glas was the college’s Business Manager from 1939-1959. He was the Assistant to the President for 11 years and Campus Executive Officer and the Vice President for Administration.
Richard R. Haugo (1982)
Haugo began teaching Industrial Technology at Bemidji State in 1965 and later became the chair of Industrial Technology Department. After eight months as acting president, he returned to Placement and Counseling, Educational Services until he retired in 1988.
Linda L. Baer (1993-1994)
Baer was the Senior Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs when President Duly died. As interim president, Baer was able to lead the school in its 75th anniversary. Baer retired as president on June 30, 1994, but took the position as Senior Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs until 1997.