Montana State University Billings Chancellor Rolf Groseth announced on Thursday that he will retire at the end of this academic school year.
"The privilege of working on a university campus is really one that I consider to be a great one and having the opportunity to lead a campus, it's rare and not very many of us get to do it," Groseth said Thursday afternoon.
An MSUB news release said that Groseth, 67, formally informed Montana State University President Waded Cruzado of his retirement on Wednesday and that it will begin after MSUB commencement on May 3.
"Since coming to MSU in 1977, Rolf Groseth has served at three MSU campuses with dedication, not to mention versatility,” Cruzado said in a statement. “For many Montanans, Rolf personifies the qualities of public service, outreach and engagement that are hallmarks of the land-grant mission. We deeply thank Rolf for his integrity, wisdom and commitment to MSU and its students.”
On Thursday after the announcement, Groseth said that, while the official notice came just this week, it was a decision long in the making.
"I’ve been kind of noodling it over for some time, actually," he said. "I had long conversations with my wife and with President Cruzado. About six weeks ago, it came to a landing point."
On his personal MSUB website, Groseth wrote a letter to MSUB faculty, students and staff addressing the retirement.
"My decision is a personal one and, though there is certainly no perfect moment for a change such as this, I believe that this may be a good time for the mantle of leadership to be passed and for a new leader to champion the institution toward its next great chapter," he wrote.
This school year was Groseth's fourth heading up MSUB, Montana's third-largest university.
During his time at MSUB, he's helped launch City College as part of an effort to increase educational opportunities at two-year colleges and helped out with the Montana University System's pilot What's Your Plan program, an advertising campaign to inform more people about two-year campuses.
He also aided in the Opportunity Campaign, which brought in $7 million that went toward student scholarships.
Mark Pagano, MSUB provost and vice chancellor of student affairs, said Groseth is the reason he came to MSUB from Purdue University in Indiana.
"His passion for Montana students and unyielding views on shared governance are unmatched throughout the system," Pagano said. "It is now our turn as a campus community to carry the torch forward as he enters retirement."
Groseth said he's enjoyed working with staff and students and that he believes MSUB is headed toward more success in the coming years.
"I think we've moved in a good direction toward bringing some more rationality to our budgeting process and our planning process," he said.
However, even with retirement looming, Groseth said he doesn't plan to take the remaining months of the semester off, and couldn't even if he wanted to.
"I would like to solidify to a better degree some of our relationships with the tribal colleges in our state and with the nearby community colleges," he said.
In addition, he'll aid in efforts to fill a pair of other high profile positions that opened up with the New Year at MSUB.
Marilynn Miller retired as president and CEO of the MSUB Foundation at the end of last month, and Stacy Klippenstein, former vice chancellor of student affairs, took over this week heading up Miles Community College in Miles City.
Groseth has spent nearly 50 years working in education, 37 of those in the Montana University System. His wife, Jaynee Drange Groseth, recently retired as president of the MSU Alumni Foundation.
He previously worked as dean of students and vice president of Inter-Campus Affairs at MSU in Bozeman.
"I have studied or worked on university campuses for 48 of the last 50 years and I know that having the opportunity to lead one is a rare blessing and a trust," he wrote. "Only a few of us get to do it."
He said that his successor will come into a "good, solid, smoothly working university community" but also faces challenges, including maintaining enrollment.
Groseth replaced retiring Chancellor Ron Sexton in July 2010 first in an interim role and then permanently that November.
After graduating from Michigan State University in 1969 with a bachelor's degree, Groseth served with the U.S. Army for two years, including one year in Vietnam, and is the only Vietnam veteran to serve as CEO of an MUS campus. He has a master's degree from Iowa State University and a Ph.D. in higher education management from the University of Florida.
Groseth said he doesn't know exactly what he plans to do in retirement, but would like to start with some extended time off to decompress.
"It's alternately exciting and traumatizing," he said. "I've been working in higher education for a long time."
Cruzado plans to visit Billings later this month, when she will meet with campus officials and community leaders to start planning the hiring process for Groseth’s successor.