By Tim Leeds
Colleagues and friends of Montana State University-Northern Chancellor Mike Rao gathered in Donaldson Commons on the university campus to thank him for his leadership at the institution and wish him and his family well in the future.
The reception was held from 4-6:30 p.m. Refreshments were served, and a short program of speakers reminisced about the two years Rao and Monica, his wife, and Miguel, his seven-month old son, have been in Havre, and presented them with some farewell gifts.
The speakers included Regent Richard Roehm from Bozeman; Norm Gorder, who is on the MSU-Northern Foundation Board; Carol Green, assistant chancellor in charge of academic affairs; Brenda Skornogowski, from the College of Business, and Rep. Toni Hagener, D-Havre.
All of the speakers thanked Rao for his work at MSU-Northern. Skornogowski said when the search committee interviewed him, the first candidate on the final list for chancellor, they didn't want anyone else. She said they knew he probably wouldn't be at MSU-Northern long, but that she was glad for the time and work he did spend here.
Gorder said some good work has been done in the two years Rao has been chancellor at the university. He said he hopes they are able to find someone able to continue the progress that has been made for the next chancellor.
Rao spoke after the presentations. He said he and his wife have enjoyed the time they have spent here and the friends they have made. He said although the opportunities for him and his family are much greater as the president of CMU, he can only hope the people he works with there are as genuine, friendly and helpful as the people he has worked with here.
Rao said the people of the university need to keep moving forward and looking ahead. He said they need to remember that the chancellor is just one person in the team working at the university, and his departure doesn't have to stop the institution's progress.
Rao announced on May 30 he had accepted the position of president at Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, Mich., an institution with a student body numbering nearly 18,000. He took over at Northern in July of 1998, after spending five years as president of Mission College in Santa Clara, Calif.