News Release

Barbara Keinath, Ph.D., Relishes Leadership Role as Interim Chancellor

By Elizabeth Tollefson on
Wednesday, February 15, 2017

When Barbara Keinath, Ph.D. (in photo), was offered the opportunity to serve as interim chancellor at the University of Minnesota Crookston, she followed her own best advice and accepted the role. Barbara Keinath

“My career path has mostly unfolded as opportunity presented itself and I was willing to take it on,” Keinath says. “All my experiences taught me something, and what I’ve learned over the years now helps me as I serve as interim chancellor. The experience I gain as interim chancellor is preparing me to help the incoming chancellor when the time comes.”

Over the course of her career, she finds the greatest satisfaction in being a part of something that, once established, will be sustainable forever. Keinath was part of the implementation of the online learning program at Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, Minn. “With a team, we built the structure for the first online program and those that followed. The structure is still in place and working for them today,” she explains. “It is exciting and rewarding to be part of something with lasting impact.”

 “At the University of Minnesota Crookston, with its tradition of innovation, people are always ready to think about creating something new. Sometimes, such as in policy development or process improvement, the work is behind the scenes. Other times, such as in new academic programs, it is very visible, I really enjoy working with students, faculty, and staff as they build toward the future.”

Keinath looks back fondly at her college days and considers them among of the greatest times of her life. “I never wanted to leave college, that is why I am still here,” she smiles. “College is a period in life of great decision making and sharing time with faculty, staff, and friends who love this environment. It is like no other time in life.”

She sees her college experience as connecting in an unexpected way to the current student experience. “While they do not connect in every way, I was going to school during the height of the Viet Nam War protests,” she recalls. “I kept going to classes and getting my homework done, but I witnessed protestors down below my dormitory room at Michigan State. It was a time of unrest and uncertainty not unlike what students are facing today. I think it is crucial for all of us to be engaged in conversations about our country’s and our campus’s values. In times of great disagreement, we need more openness and dialogue, not less.”

In many ways, Keinath’s career is a study in leadership. An avid reader, it is no wonder she claims the James MacGregor Burns book Transforming Leadership to have had the greatest influence on her role as a leader, and the touching children’s book Old Turtle by Douglas Wood, which promotes a deeper understanding of the relationship of people to the earth, a stand out favorite as well.

“During this interim period between chancellors, it is our goal to advance our thinking about the future vision for the campus,” Keinath says. “As interim chancellor, a key part of my role is supporting our faculty and students in their ever-so-important day-to-day work of teaching and learning and backing our staff in providing the best possible environment and academic support for students.”

Keinath strives to live and work with authenticity and integrity and the one thing she wants above all else is to earn the trust of those she works with and serves. She finds that fulfilling the needs of the institution is gratifying and thereby fulfilling her own desire to do good work while serving the university’s best interests.

If there is one thing, Keinath would like the Crookston community and the region to know about her is that she is glad she is here. “I would like to think I am making a difference for the better,” she says. “And, I want the region to know I love this place and am glad I came.”

For students preparing to graduate, Keinath has a recommendation. “If someone on campus has made a special difference in your life, tell them before you leave campus,” Keinath says. “Don’t miss an opportunity to tell someone when they have had an impact on you. It will be a powerful experience for you both.”


Keinath holds a doctorate in educational administration with a focus on higher education and policy from the University of Minnesota. She earned her Master of Arts in college student personnel from Michigan State University, and a Bachelor of Arts in German also from Michigan State. "I like to think I have a good understanding of the student affairs as well as the academic side," she says, "and we know that when the two sides work together in tandem, the overall educational experience is strongest."

Keinath's husband Jim served city administrator of Circle Pines, Minn., for 30 years. He has retired to their lake home near Longville, Minnesota, where she frequently joins him and their lively German Shorthair Pointer for the weekends. Her hobbies and interests include birding, gardening, reading, and sustainability and environmental issues.

The University of Minnesota Crookston now delivers 34 bachelor's degree programs, 22 minors, and 40 areas of emphasis on campus as well as 14 degree programs entirely online.  These degrees are offered in the areas of agriculture and natural resources; business; liberal arts and education; and math, science and technology.  With an enrollment of 1,800 undergraduates from more than 20 countries and 40 states, the Crookston campus offers a supportive, close-knit atmosphere that leads to a prestigious University of Minnesota degree.  "Small Campus. Big Degree."  To learn more, visit


Elizabeth Tollefson

University Relations