Education leader returns in new role

Sept. 12, 2019

This paid piece is sponsored by South Dakota Biotech.

A higher education leader has returned to South Dakota.

Dr. Michael Wanous recently moved back to the state to serve as Northern State University’s provost. He previously spent five years as vice president for academic affairs and dean of faculty at Indiana’s Huntington University.

Wanous earned his Ph.D. in genetics from the University of Missouri in Columbia. Before his role at Huntington, he was a professor at Augustana University, where his positions also included associate academic dean, natural science division chair and biology department chair.

Welcome back to South Dakota. What attracted you to your new role?

When I saw the position opening at Northern, I was excited about this possibility. NSU is a great institution with a regional mission to serve students in the northeast quadrant of South Dakota, as well as providing a high quality, affordable education to students more broadly in the South Dakota, North Dakota and Minnesota area. Northern is experiencing very positive momentum at this time, with a dynamic president, Dr. Tim Downs; three new residence halls; and the new Harvey C. Jewett IV Regional Science Education Center opening this fall. The thriving city of Aberdeen and the region strongly support the university, with investment of over $100 million in the last decade.

What are some of your initial priorities in helping lead NSU?

We are exploring ways to strengthen experiential learning for Northern students. This includes improving access to opportunities in undergraduate research and artistic creation, internships, service learning and study abroad. We are also looking at new academic programs to serve our region.

How would you say the state’s higher education landscape has changed in the five years since you’ve been gone? What most excites you about its potential going forward?

These are challenging times in higher education in the United States with current demographic and economic trends. South Dakota continues to grow resilient, hardworking young people. As long as we continue to cultivate the values that make South Dakota strong, we have a bright future, regardless of any challenges ahead.

You also have served on the board of directors for South Dakota Biotech. What drives your interest in that industry, and how do you anticipate being involved in your new role?

Given my background in plant genetics, it was a privilege to be involved with South Dakota Biotech as a board member. With its vibrant agriculture and substantial biosciences research capacities, South Dakota is positioned to continue to grow its biotech potential. As the new provost at NSU, I look forward to finding collaborative opportunities to strengthen bioscience education at Northern and across the state.

How do you see NSU positioned to further become part of the bioscience economy in the state?

Northern has historically had strong programs in the sciences and education. We aim to leverage the construction of our new Regional Science Education Center to grow Northern State University’s contribution to workforce development in the South Dakota biotech economy. With enhanced teaching and undergraduate research capacity, our students will be better prepared to enter the South Dakota biotech workforce.

New era at NSU: University debuts its first new classroom building in 40 years

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Education leader returns in new role

A higher education leader has returned to South Dakota with a new role and the goal of strengthening our bioscience workforce.

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