Havre met with the next of Montana State University-Northern’s parade of chancellor candidates, this time from deep in the heart of Texas.
James Limbaugh is currently the vice president for strategy, planning and policy at Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas, which he has been since 2008, in addition to being the interim provost and vice president for academic interview around on the forum’s attendees any time a lull in conversation popped up.
He asked the crowd what they wanted in a new chancellor.
Renelle Braaten, Havre business owner and member of the Northern Foundation Board, told him that the school needs “someone who understands how important community is to the college.
“You get into your business up here and you forget there’s a community out there,” Braaten said.
Limbaugh responded by explaining his personal “50/50” philosophy, in which he spends half his time working on campus and the other half off campus, with members of the public, the business community and the government to work towards everyone’s mutual benefit.
“It is a privilege for a chancellor to work with a community that has demonstrated its support like Havre,” Limbaugh said.
The conversation turned to students and how he can work with and for them.
Limbaugh highlighted his positions throughout his career in which he did just that, from his position at Frostburg as the associate dean of students in 1980 to interim position he held until 2010 at Angelo State.
“Students are the reason I am here,” Limbaugh said. “If you don’t enjoy working with students, you’ve outlived your usefulness.”
Not long after that answer he was asked by Paul Tokarski, Northern’s student senate president, what his thoughts on recruiting students in Canada were.
“My thoughts are, why weren’t you doing it 10 years ago?” Limbaugh said. “Why can’t Northern be a multi-national institution?”
He then went into the revolutionary changes happening in higher education these days, where “sending a recruiter or two up the road” to Canada may no longer be the best policy. He said that most schools these days are using social media to reach prospective students where they spend their time.
According to Limbaugh, one in five students applying to schools will shun a school if its website is not user-friendly.
Limbaugh also described his thoughts on the potential for technology-fueled distance learning for expanding the already large region that Northern serves, collaborating on transferable programs with area tribal colleges and how to not only grow Northern, but to do so in a reasonable and responsible manner, working with the community to accommodate as many people’s needs as possible.
As Limbaugh wraps up his visit to Northern this morning, meeting with several committees and then heading to Bozeman this afternoon, the two remaining candidates, Paul Jones and Phillip Taylor, are just heading into town for their turn to talk with the community, with Jones’ forum this evening from 5:15 to 6:15 p.m. and Taylor’s Thursday morning at 11 a.m.