Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan

Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan

Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan


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Winona State’s Next Top President: Three Finalists

Photo contributed by the Post Bulletin
Shown are the three finalists for the position of Winona State University’s President. Left to Right: Mary Bonderoff, Karim Ismaili and Kenneth Janz.

Almost a year after former President Scott Olson departed and interim President Kenneth Janz came into his role, Winona State University is bringing its presidential search to an end with three potential candidates. Starting Feb. 13, 2024, the three aspiring Winona State University presidents visited campus to show their qualifications for the position.

Tuesday morning, the presidential information sessions open to faculty, students and staff began with Karim Ismaili, Executive Vice President and Provost of Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts since 2021. Originally born in London, England, Ismaili spent the majority of his teen years in Vancouver, Canada. He holds a bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degree from Simon Fraser University, the University of Cambridge and the University of Western Ontario respectively.

Ismaili, originally a criminology student, was pushed by a professor to go to graduate school, which changed the trajectory of his life to the path that brought him to higher education. Ismaili did not know he wanted to be a professor himself until the end of his doctoral education, which opened up the possibilities of working for administration across two countries.

“So, for me the power of higher education and this goes to your institution is about the shared commitment,” Ismaili said during his opening speech. “We have to live a mission and support students to transform their lives, and to contribute to the world that we’re in. A community of learners improving our world, right?”

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Winona State University’s mission statement was a sentiment Ismaili mentioned many times, as he stated to find a lot of importance in the role of Universities in society – to “serve students and push boundaries of knowledge,” and to give students the support they need to improve our world in the future.

Ismaili additionally places a lot of importance on narrowing equity gaps through one-on-one student support, deliberate decision making based on data, serving non-traditional students, supporting students through philanthropy, hands-on alumni development and participating in academic affairs to contribute to the larger support base of a university.

“I want to be available and know and for you to know that I’m available to you. That to me is the most important thing,” Ismaili stated. “My priorities are about community and making sure that I’m doing everything I can to build community to help our community.”

When asked about how he would combat potential issues on campus in the presidential role, Ismaili explained his philosophy in being prepared for anything at any point. When in a leadership role such as the president of a university, many crises can arise in a very short period of time, such as plummeting enrollment rates after COVID-19, highly politicized issues and financial pressures; rather than focusing all of the attention on attending to long-term projects, Ismaili expressed the importance of effectively planning crisis-response procedures.

“What I would say is that I believe in not waiting for crises but anticipating them. And in anticipating them, you have time to think about the plan,” “What is in the best interest of our students? …every decision that we make, we have to be thinking about that.”

Overall, Karim Ismaili is committed to protecting the reputation of the university, learning new things, working together to work through potential difficulties, building community and continuing the excellence of Wino- na State University through his potential presidency.

“If we think about the mission of the institution, it follows that a president should be deeply engaged in the community in every way that the President can be,” Ismaili said.

On Wednesday, Feb. 14, current interim president and aspiring president Kenneth Janz also presented to students, faculty and staff in the Kryzsko Solarium. Because of his current position as interim president of Winona State University, Janz focused partially on what he would love to continue doing if he is granted the position as president later this year.

Janz has a bachelor’s degree from Dickinson State University in North Dakota, a master’s degree from North Dakota State University and a doctorate degree from Indiana State University. He originally worked as a busi- ness-education and computer science high school teacher before he worked in the college of Education at Indiana State University. He found himself at Winona State University when he was encouraged to apply to the CIO position, which he began in 2008 along with the Associate Director of Academic Affairs position and the Dean of the Library later in 2015.

Through his position as interim president of Winona State for the past semester and a half, Janz stated that many days he spends time on campus from 6:30am to 9pm because of the number of on-campus activities he enjoys attending, such as Student Senate and student shows. As an introvert, Janz struggled at first with the amount of time he spends with other people on a daily basis; however, he’s found himself feeling more and more energized each day.

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About the Contributor
Heidi Hanson
Heidi Hanson, Features Editor

Heidi Hanson (she/her/hers) is the Features Editor for the Winonan as of fall 2022. She joined the Winonan during her first semester at WSU, back in fall of 2021. Hanson is currently a third year at Winona State University, majoring in Communication Arts and Literature Teaching with a minor in Communication Studies Teaching.

Besides writing for the Winonan, Hanson is a Resident Assistant at the East Lake Apartments and is a member of the National Residence Hall Honorary (NRHH). She also works as a research assistant for the Communications Department.

For fun, Hanson enjoys reading mystery novels, watching horror movies, and enjoying music from all genres. She also enjoys journaling and exploring the surrounding area of Winona.

Hanson hopes to be a middle or high school English teacher after graduation to spread her love of literature and provide a safe space for future students who go through her English Literature classroom. Before that, however, she hopes to have a fulfilled four years at WSU and grow through work and social experiences.

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