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Interim Chancellor Rolf Groseth had just shaken off jet lag from a trip to China to promote Montana State University Billings when it was announced on Monday that he had been chosen to fill the top job permanently.

Groseth returned Friday from a trip to Chinese universities that have agreements with MSU Billings to bring students to Montana for part of their education.

On Monday, Montana State University President Waded Cruzado said she was appointing Groseth to replace Chancellor Ron Sexton, who retired in August.

Groseth and Sally Johnstone, provost at Winona State University in Minnesota, were finalists for the job.

“Dr. Groseth has a proven track record of dedication to Montana State University and its units across the state,” Cruzado said. “He has the ability to connect to the people and students at our campuses and proven he can garner support in the communities we serve.”

Cruzado's appointment will go before the Montana of Board of Regents meeting in Missoula later this week.

Filling key administrative jobs at MSU Billings and getting ready for the 2011 Montana Legislature are two of the biggest projects that Groseth will tackle in the near future.

MSU Billings' colleges of education and business both have interim deans. The provost also is serving on a temporary basis. When College of Technology Dean John Cech moves to a job in the commissioner of higher education office, that job will have to be filled, too. Cech's appointment is also up for approval at the regents' meeting this week.

Searches for people to permanently fill those positions have been or soon will be started.

“Getting the right people on the bus is very important,” Groseth said.

Hammering out a budget and working with the rest of the Montana University System during the state Legislature will take up a big part of his time in the next few months.

It's already known that the current budget will lose federal stimulus money, which means cuts will have to be made, he said.

“It's likely we won't have the funds to do everything we are doing now,” he said.

As for the possibility of higher tuition, Groseth said that probably will be discussed by the university system as a whole.

He would approach any tuition increases cautiously because many MSU Billings students are “at the edge” of not being able to afford college, he said.

Groseth, 64, has served as interim chancellor since July when he came to Billings from the Bozeman campus, where he was vice president of inter-campus affairs.

Except for 20 months when he was interim chancellor at Montana State University Northern in Havre, Groseth has worked at MSU in Bozeman since 1977 as director of student activities, dean of students and executive assistant to the MSU president.

While working at the University of Florida, he coordinated veterans programs for several years. After graduating from Michigan State University with a bachelor's degree, he served with the U.S. Army in Vietnam for one year. He has a master's degree from Iowa State University and a Ph.D. in higher education management from the University of Florida.

Cruzado's choice of Groseth delighted student and faculty representatives.

Kayla Miller, president of the Association of Students of MSU Billings, said she was excited about continuing to work with Groseth.

While he was interim chancellor, Groseth had an open-door policy, and students always could get into to see him. He has been pleasant to work with and quickly got involved with the community.

Students have started to work with Groseth on a proposed shuttle between the College of Technology and the main campus. Groseth had experience developing a similar service when he was interim chancellor at MSU Northern, Miller said.

Keith Edgerton, who heads the MSU Billings Faculty Association, said Monday that “se couldn't be happier” with Groseth's appointment.

The faculty union supported Groseth's selection because “he has great communication skills, is open-minded and is willing to listen.”

“We're looking forward to working with him on a range of tough issues,” Edgerton said, including facing a conservative Legislature that may make it difficult to fund the university system adequately.

Contact Mary Pickett at 657-1262 or

Contact Mary Pickett at 657-1262 or