SMSU’s New President: Connie Gores


Kim Watkins

Connie Gores is SMSU ninth permanent president.

Kim Watkins, News Editor

Southwest Minnesota State University celebrates and welcomes Connie J. Gores as the new president-elect. Gores was chosen for the top position–out of a total of 47 candidates–at the MnSCU (Minnesota State Colleges & Universities) Board of Trustees meeting, which was held Tuesday, Feb. 26 at 8:30 a.m.

Over the past several months, the MnSCU organization and Southwest Minnesota State University have worked together in the search for a new president that will take the helm and lead the university starting in the 2013-2014 school year.

When former president, David Danahar, retired after 10 years at the university, the school elected Ronald Wood as the interim president of SMSU. Wood has worked with the university for the past two consecutive school years, leading the university in this time of transition.

Through a series of interviews both on and off campus, and through several meetings/sessions with the staff, faculty and students of SMSU and community members, MnSCU came to this decision due to Gores’ background in rural and agricultural communities and her leadership skills that have been apparent in her former places of work, including at Winona State University.

Members of SMSU and the community will be able to celebrate this recent decision on Wednesday, Feb. 27 in the Conference Center (CC) ballroom. A social gathering will be held at 11:15 a.m., with the presentation to follow at 11:30 a.m. A reception will follow the presentation.

Gores shared her excitement in being chosen for this position, stating that she was honored to receive the position and looks forward to working with members of SMSU and the community.

Several members of SMSU have shared their thoughts about MnSCU’s decision and what they most look forward to seeing next for the university.

Chancellor Steven Rosenstone shared his thoughts about the decision, stating that  “I think it is spectacular. She’s 100 percent student-focused, a great visionary…future of SMSU, she’ll be a great partner with staff, students, faculty and community.”

Provost Beth Weatherby said she “couldn’t be more thrilled with this decision….[Gores] is a first generation college student, she’s student-centered…she’s from the prairie. I don’t think we could have a better president at this time in our history…she’s just right for SMSU.”

“I’m very excited. She has a passion…for the students, campus and community. She’ll be a great advocate for pushing community partnerships,” said Bill Mulso, vice president for advancement and foundation executive director.

Interim dean of business, education, graduate and professional studies, Raphael Onyeaghala said he “looks forward to working with Dr. Gores. SMSU will benefit from her outstanding leadership.”

Student government president, Kyle Berndt, shared his thoughts, expressing that Gores is a “great candidate…couldn’t have gone wrong with either [candidate]. I’m looking forward to seeing how she interacts with people…see her at work.”

Her educational background includes a bachelor’s degree in Sociology (North Dakota State University), a master’s degree in College Student Personnel Administration (Colorado State University) and a doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, Higher Education Administration (University of Washington).

Gores has worked with several institutions, including Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, Cornish College of the Arts and Willamette University College of Law.

Her most recent position has been at Winona State University since 2007, where she was the vice president for student life and development as well as interim president for summer 2012.

She is the ninth permanent president of SMSU and is the first female president of the University.

Gores will begin her duties as president of SMSU in July 2013.

For more information on this story, check out or