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Dan Edelman will trade a view of the Dallas, Texas, skyline for vistas of Rimrocks and downtown Billings when he becomes chancellor of Montana State University Billings.

Edelman rose to the top of the candidate field after four finalists were interviewed in Billings during the last full week of February. He is the choice of a search committee that included MSU President Waded Cruzado, who will be Edelman’s boss, Regent Martha Sheehy, faculty, business, education and community leaders. The appointment still must be approved by the Board of Regents.

Edelman is vice president for administration and chief financial officer at the University of North Texas, a public four-year college in Dallas. He could start at MSUB as soon as May 7, the Monday after spring commencement.

Edelman got attention during his interview when he boldly stated that MSUB could boost its enrollment to 6,000 within five years. Enrollment was 4,400 last fall.

The new chancellor should start his Montana job with a sense of urgency for leading MSUB forward. Interim Chancellor Ron Larsen and his predecessors have analyzed student recruitment and retention data and set goals. Edelman must implement those goals while connecting with the community and getting the long-awaited Yellowstone Science and Allied Health Building under construction.

As the first generation of his family to graduate from college, Edelman earned a master’s degree in accounting and a doctorate in mathematics education, served in the U.S. Army, became a CPA and worked as a forensic auditor for the U.S. Justice Department. He was a college professor before becoming an administrator.

Edelman’s strong financial background is a valuable skill for running MSUB on a continually tight budget. The Billings campuses also need a chancellor who will be the face of the university in the community — in Billings and surrounding areas. MSUB needs a chancellor with the drive and personality to make friends for MSUB.

MSUB is a great, but underdeveloped, asset for Billings and Eastern Montana. Edelman will need to figure out how to polish its image and its educational offerings. As an urban campus, MSUB attracts a large proportion of mid-career students who are juggling family and work responsibilities along with their college education. Dual enrollment of high school students in college courses is a bright spot in MSUB’s student count, and has great potential for growth.

MSUB should offer students maximum flexibility to meet their needs. The university needs to be seen as the major player educating this region’s workforce with strong partnerships in its communities.

Thanks, Ron Larsen

MSUB owes Ron Larsen thanks. He stepped into the chancellor post quickly and enthusiastically. His attention to drilling down into the data to figure out the “why” behind enrollment trends helped the university set achievable goals. Larsen also had the immediate challenge of dealing with budget and program cuts during his year leading MSUB. Larsen’s job isn’t done, he will be hard at work for the rest of the semester.

“This is going to be my last institution,” Edelman told Gazette reporter Matt Hudson. “And I want to end here successfully years and years from now.”

The Gazette editorial board wishes Edelman success in a longer tenure than we have seen for recent chancellors. We look forward to welcoming him home to Billings.

For full disclosure: Darrell Ehrlick and Catherine Grott are instructors at MSUB. Publisher Michael Gulledge served on the chancellor search committee.