On his first official day as interim chancellor at Montana State University Billings on Thursday, Rolf Groseth didn’t waste any time getting to work.
Groseth, 63, temporarily on loan from Montana State University iin Bozeman, will work with Chancellor Ron Sexton until Sexton retires on Aug. 31 after 15 years on the job.
Groseth then will take over the helm until Sexton’s replacement is hired.
Sexton and Groseth will work out of the same office on the second floor of McMullen Hall during the transition.
On Thursday morning, Groseth and Sexton attended a meeting discussing how to increase student retention and enrollment with a representative of Noel Levitz, a higher education consulting firm.
Then, after a campus tour in the afternoon, Groseth planned to do what every new employee does — get a parking permit and complete paperwork in the human resources office.
But, unlike many new hires, Groseth already knows MSU Billings and the city well.
Most recently, he was vice president in charge of coordinating MSU’s four campuses, a job that brought him to Billings many times.
Groseth doesn’t expect any surprises over the next several weeks.
Because the university has thrived under Sexton’s leadership, Groseth said, his main job will be to keep MSU Billings’ momentum going during the transition period.
Over the next weeks, he and Sexton will plan for the school year that starts on Sept. 8, prepare for upcoming Montana Board of Regents meetings, lay the groundwork for the 2011 Montana Legislature and work on Montana University System strategic planning for the Billings campus.
The process to find Sexton’s successor is under way. An external search consultant has been hired, and the position is being advertised. A list of candidates may be narrowed to a few finalists by October.
Stacy Klippenstein, MSU Billings vice chancellor for student affairs, is a co-chair of the search committee with Jim Rimpau, an MSU vice president.
MSU President Waded Cruzado hopes to have a new chancellor starting as soon as possible after the new year, Groseth said.
After retiring as chancellor, Sexton will move to an office on the third floor of McMullen to launch a campaign to raise $6 million for scholarships.
Groseth arrived in Billings to take in the university’s Summer Fest on campus on Tuesday night.
He looks forward to attending Mustangs baseball games and the Magic City Blues festival in August.
Groseth has moved into the chancellor’s house at the west edge of campus. Sexton and his wife have moved to an off-campus home.
Groseth has worked at MSU since 1977 as director of student services, dean of students and executive assistant to the president.
For 20 months, he was interim chancellor at Montana State University-Northern in Havre.
A native of the Chicago area, he graduated from Michigan State University in political science. Drafted into the U.S. Army, he served two years, including a tour in Vietnam.
He got a master’s degree at Iowa State University and a Ph.D. in higher education administration at the University of Florida.
He and his wife, Jaynee, who will continue her job as CEO of the MSU Alumni Association, have two grown sons.
Jaynee Drange Groseth graduated from Billings West High, and her parents, Elmer and Paulean Drange, still live in Billings.