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Regents Name Four Finalists for DSU President; Griffiths Has Techno-Edge over MBAs, Chemist

Madison will sell a few more sandwiches this week, as the four finalists for the open president’s job at Dakota State University come to campus Thursday and Friday. Who wants the job?

  • Thomas M. Mitzel, Hartford, Conn., dean of faculty and vice president of academic affairs, Trinity College.
  • Douglas A. Hensler, Monterey, Calif., provost, Naval Postgraduate School.
  • José-Marie Griffiths, East Greenwich, R.I., vice president for academic affairs and professor, Bryant University.
  • Don Capener, Jacksonville, Fla., dean and endowed chair, Davis College of Business at Jacksonville University.

Without looking at the vitae, I vote for Griffiths, because the moment she does something I don’t like, I get to lead a blog post with, “No Way, José….

Dr. José-Marie Griffiths
Dr. José-Marie Griffiths

Put that monkey back in the cage, and Dr. José-Marie Griffiths still may lead the pack. Read her 71-page vita, and you’ll see she got her Ph.D. in information science and did post-doc work in computer science and statistics. She’s taught classes in leadership, management, research, database design, artificial intelligence… oh! and a freshman seminar on women in technology. (DSU’s enrollment is 44.8% female; School of Mines is the only other campus with minority female enrollment. DSU also has the second-lowest percentage of female faculty.) She directed the IT division and served as Chief Information Officer at U. Michigan Ann Arbor. Both President Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush appointed her to science advisory positions that required Senate approval. She’s published twelve books, dozens of chapters, and goo-gobs of scholarly articles on information science.

Forget whatever nuttiness former DSU boss David Borofsky was suggesting about overcoming DSU’s image as a computer-nerd school before the Regents retired him last summer; Dr. Griffiths can be the cherry on top of DSU’s raison-d’être tech-geek sundae. Griffiths does what DSU does.

And she’s British. She says process and progress with a long o. Class the joint up, DSU!

Dr. Douglas A. Hensler
Dr. Douglas A. Hensler—there’s a flag in the background, so obviously, he’s good!

The other three guys aren’t bad. Engineer and MBA Dr. Douglas A. Hensler is provost at the Naval Postgraduate School in California. Among the “academic leadership accomplishments” on his fifteen-page vita, Hensler includes, “In a highly constrained environment including sequestration, hiring freeze, travel restrictions, super-oversight by the Pentagon bureaucracy, and contracting restrictions, maintained esprit de corps among faculty and staff,” which suggests he work well in the education environment created by the South Dakota Legislature. He ‘s worked more on the business and management side (dean of biz schools at Wichita State, California State–Fresno, management prof at U. Colorado–Boulder, finance prof at U. Portland and U. Texas–Arlington). Hensler has papers and presentations, too, and in 1973, he worked on a nuclear reactor in San Diego, which is ten bonus points on my scorecard no matter what job we’re talking about.

Dr. Don Capener
Dr. Don Capener

Dr. Don Capener is our other MBA choice. That Arizona/Thunderbird MBA is sandwiched by a Brigham Young B.A. in economics and political science and a doctorate from the International School of Management in Paris (dix points de bonus!). Capener current deans the Jacksonville University business school in Florida. He taught business and marketing at Monmouth College in Illinois before becoming their VP for planning and marketing. From 1985 to 2001, Capener marketed in the private sector. Capener’s six-page vita is the only one among the finalists’ vitae to list a personal blog, Southeastern Entrepreneurs, which boasts over 100 posts since January 2011, including a recent post in which Capener contends that “misalignment” is a bigger problem in higher education that funding or student debt.

Dr. Thomas Mitzel
Dr. Thomas Mitzel—Tom! Watch out for those novels on the shelf! The humanities want you back!

Dr. Thomas M. Mitzel is an Aberdeen guy who started at Northern State as an English major before organic chemsitry corrupted him. He graduated from NSU in 1990 with a B.S. in chemistry, then earned his doctorate in chemistry at Boston College. He is currently dean of faculty and VP academic at Trinity College in Connecticut. Mitzel’s ten-page vita shows that he professed chemistry for most of his professional career before moving “up” to administration. His publications are all about chemistry and thus would likely never be cited in any graduate research at DSU.

These four finalist all bring useful executive experience, but only Griffiths brings substantial knowledge and experience in Dakota State University’s core mission of information technology. Only Griffiths has published a large body of information systems research, and one would expect that promoting information systems research on campus will figure prominently in DSU’s efforts to fulfill the Board of Regents’ goal of expanding research.

On paper, Griffiths looks like DSU’s gal. But before we say “Yes way, José!” let’s see how the candidates sound over lunch. (We’re getting fajitas from El Vaquero, right?)

One Comment

  1. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-04-22 07:30

    p.s.: We should note that the Regents are to be commended for keeping their word this time and not simply naming their pick for DSU interim president Marysz Rames to be the permanent president. The Regents tried that last time with David Borofsky, whom they told us would be only temporary, and that went poorly.

    I hear interim president Rames has been doing fine work. Rames is a finalist in Eastern Oregon University’s presidential search. Rames tells them that in her brief stint at DSU, she has “increased enrollments in both on their campus and online programs… received grants for American Indian and low-income students, implemented student success and retention models, developed and implemented strategic plans and has been involved with fundraising.”

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