Montana State University

Wolff named new dean and CEO of MSU-Great Falls College of Technology

May 21, 2012 -- MSU News Service


Susan Wolff will be the new dean and CEO for MSU-Great Falls. She will start July 16.   High-Res Available

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Montana State University President Waded Cruzado announced on Monday that, subject to approval by the Montana Board of Regents, Susan Wolff will be the new dean and CEO for MSU-Great Falls. She will start July 16.

"Dr. Wolff has a long and distinguished career in two-year education," Cruzado said. "She has a great depth of experience and a great enthusiasm for helping students become the best they can be. She will be a wonderful addition to Montana State."

Wolff is currently chief academic officer at Columbia Gorge Community College in The Dalles, Ore., a position she has held since 2004. CGCC has 5,900 students and serves seven counties in the mid-Columbia River region of Oregon and Washington.

"I'm looking forward to meeting and spending time with the students of MSU-Great Falls. I'm also looking forward to working with the college's dedicated faculty and staff. Through their excellent work, the college offers incredible opportunities to its students," Wolff said.

"MSU-Great Falls plays an important role in the economic, educational and cultural future of Montana," Wolff said. "I am anxious to meet the college's partners in the community, K-12, business and government to make sure we are providing as much value to Montana as possible."

Wolff plans to work with area chambers of commerce, business and industry to understand their workforce needs and with K-12 and other educational partners to provide learning opportunities for students of all ages, she said.

"The college's mission is to fully prepare students to meet their educational goals, be successful in their careers, and continue their learning," Wolff said. "I'll be focusing on keeping students in school and helping them earn their degrees."

She is currently vice-chair of the executive committee of the Mid-Columbia Economic Development District, which works to bring economic development to a five-county region straddling Washington and Oregon. Wolff also serves on the Hood River County Library Foundation and the Hood River United Way Council.

At CGCC, Wolff led the development of a nationally recognized renewable energy technology program, only the third such program in the nation when developed in 2007. This work led to CGCC receiving the American Wind Energy Association's Seal of Approval. She also oversaw the implementation of nursing simulation technologies and facilities.

Wolff developed the college's first instructional governance model which included the academic department chairs, instructional council, curriculum and academic standards committees.

Under her leadership, CGCC has been moving toward independent accreditation by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities after having contracted with Portland Community College since 1976 for its accreditation status. Accreditation is a massive administrative undertaking that requires an institution to examine in detail its every function.

Wolff earned a bachelor's of education from MSU and a master's of education from Oregon State University. She holds a doctorate of community college leadership from OSU and teaches in the program.

Wolff was one of three finalists who visited the Great Falls campus the week of May 14 after a national search. The finalists were selected by a 12-member search committee comprised of faculty, staff, administrators, members of the Great Falls community and the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education. The committee was co-chaired by Gwendolyn Joseph, interim dean/CEO for MSU-Great Falls, and Bob Hietala, dean of MSU's Gallatin College Programs in Bozeman.

"Finding new leadership for a campus is an important job and this committee dedicated themselves completely and selflessly to the task," Cruzado said. "They have earned a well-deserved thank you for helping us find a great leader for the campus."

Cruzado also praised Joseph, who served as interim dean and CEO since January after Joe Schaffer stepped down to accept the presidency of the Laramie County Community College in Wyoming. Joseph came to MSU-GF from the Kentucky Community and Technical College System.

"Gwendolyn provided leadership and stability during this important transition," Cruzado. "Her national reputation in two-year education is well deserved."

MSU-Great Falls serves more than 5,000 individuals each year through its associate degree and certificate programs, professional and continuing education, customized training, youth activities and special events. MSU-Great Falls offer programs in career areas in high demand including health care occupations such as nursing, physical therapist assistants and respiratory care. For students targeting a four-year degree or beyond, MSU-Great Falls offers the Montana University System Core and associate of arts/associate of science degrees and numerous articulations with other universities in Montana.

Pam Parsons, MSU-GF COT university relations, (406) 771-4314, pparsons@msugf.edu; Tracy Ellig, MSU communications, (406) 994-5607, tellig@montana.edu