Photo of Chancellor Mary Holz-Clause

CROOKSTON, Minn. (March 18, 2021) - Chancellor Mary Holz-Clause has agreed to assume the role of Acting Executive Chancellor for the University of Minnesota Crookston and Morris campuses for a two-year term to support Acting Chancellor Janet Ericksen of Morris starting this summer.

Morris Chancellor Michelle Behr recently announced her retirement--to begin this June--after four years of leadership on the Morris campus. 

“As you know, the headwinds in higher education are nothing short of historic. The pandemic, the economy, and enrollment challenges across Minnesota and nationwide are just a few of the challenges we face, said University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel. “We must, now more than ever, find ways to focus on our academic mission while seeking opportunities to streamline our administrative and ‘back-office’ functions.”  As a result, Gabel notes, the University will wait until spring 2022 before conducting a search for the Morris campus’ next leader.

To assist with the transition and to ensure continuity at the campus level, Crookston Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs John Hoffman will serve as Acting Senior Vice Chancellor during this two-year period. Both campuses have already collaborated closely, creating innovative synergies to further share administrative service models, which already include a shared registrar and admissions team announced last month. These efforts will continue under the leadership of Acting Chancellor Schrunk Ericksen and Acting Executive Chancellor Holz-Clause.

“Morris has a strong liberal arts tradition, while we focus on hands-on learning. This new sharing of leadership is a natural extension of the cohesive working collaboration between UMN Morris and UMN Crookston,” says Holz-Clause. 

According to Holz-Clause, efforts will continue while honoring the campuses’ unique contributions to the System and their respective communities. “At times, transitions  cause concern. Let me assure you, both of our campuses will remain strong and continue to serve our unique students. And we certainly are aware of our “lean-ness” on the Crookston campus. We look forward to the coming days when we start investing on a greater level into hiring and bringing to campus some of those individuals who are already hired and will be starting soon.”

Gabel says Holz-Clause will provide behind-the-scenes support for Schrunk Ericksen and allow her to benefit from Mary’s experiences as a sitting chancellor. “Mary is an excellent leader who, while leading a very different campus, appreciates those differences and is committed to helping Janet steward the Morris campus through this transition.”

The transition is not a step toward merging the Morris and Crookston campuses, nor their missions. “Those missions are distinct,” Gabel said. “I expect that this collaboration will further the creative innovative synergies that Morris and Crookston have initiated already. Those administrative efforts will continue.”

About UMN Crookston

One of five campuses in the University of Minnesota System, the University of Minnesota Crookston cultivates curiosity by engaging students in hands-on learning connecting theory to practice. As the experienced leader in delivering education online, the Crookston campus offers a distinctive learning environment providing personal attention and mentorship to develop leaders, lifelong learners, and engaged citizens. Visit Crookston at 

About UMN

The University of Minnesota System, with campuses in Crookston, Duluth, Morris, Rochester, and the Twin Cities, is driven by a singular vision of excellence. We are proud of our land-grant mission of world-class education, groundbreaking research, and community-engaged outreach, and we are unified in our drive to serve Minnesota. Learn more at

Story Contact: Shawn Smith