Janet Schrunk Ericksen to be inaugurated as chancellor of University of Minnesota Morris
On Thursday, Oct. 26, Janet Schrunk Ericksen, Ph.D., will be officially inaugurated as chancellor of the University of Minnesota Morris. She will be the campus’ seventh chancellor, succeeding Michelle Behr, who retired in June 2021. Ericksen’s appointment was approved by the University’s Board of Regents at its May 2023 meeting.
“Janet has been an integral part of the University of Minnesota Morris for decades as a faculty member and leader and I am thrilled to celebrate her inauguration,” said University of Minnesota Interim President Jeff Ettinger. “In every role she’s served at Morris, Janet has embraced the tight-knit and diverse campus culture that makes the Morris campus so special. I have no doubt she will continue to support thoughtful engagement throughout the community and build upon Morris’ nationally-recognized liberal arts and sciences education, which fuels innovation and connections throughout the region and our entire state.”
An internationally recognized scholar of medieval literature, Ericksen began her career at UMN Morris in 1998 as an assistant professor of English. Since then she has held a variety of campus leadership roles, including vice chancellor for academic affairs and dean, director of the Honors Program, chair of the Division of the Humanities and interim chair of the Division of the Social Sciences. She has been an active participant in University of Minnesota governance, including as a University Senator and two terms as a member of the Faculty Consultative Committee. She has been in the classroom working directly with students as recently as last spring, when she taught an Honors course on campus, and still serves as a guest lecturer in English courses whenever her schedule permits.
“As I reflect on the 25 years I've enjoyed here at the University of Minnesota Morris, I'm particularly proud to be part of our community of students and staff, people who have had imagination and willingness to consider different ideas and new actions. This continues to be incredibly necessary as higher education faces an unprecedented array of challenges,” said Ericksen. “My goals are to make sure this place and what it is trying to do can continue. That includes making sure that we are accessible to the students who should be here.”
Ericksen is a member of the University of Minnesota Academy of Distinguished Teachers, a recipient of the University of Minnesota Morris Alumni Association Teaching Award, the Horace T. Morse-Minnesota Alumni Association Award and the author of Reading Old English Biblical Poetry (U Toronto Press 2020). She holds a bachelor’s degree in English and art history from the University of Kansas and a master’s and doctorate degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with specialization in early medieval English and Old Norse literature.
Leading a one-of-a-kind campus
Ericksen is chancellor of one of the most distinctive university campuses in the country. Since the University of Minnesota Morris opened its doors in 1960, it has been a student-centered, affordable and intentionally scaled public liberal arts college.
The Morris campus has transformed itself into one of the most sustainable campuses in America, going carbon neutral in electricity while producing the most renewable energy per student in America. Morris’ established national leadership in green initiatives also includes wind energy, biomass energy and renewable energy storage. Innovative approaches to sustainability pioneered at Morris have grown to form the famed Morris Model, which is studied as an example for campuses — with their local communities — to follow. UMN Morris has been consistently ranked as one of the world’s most environmentally responsible college campuses.
UMN Morris has also been ranked as one of the 10 best public liberal arts colleges in the nation for a number of years. With an 11-to-one faculty ratio, the campus is known for its hands-on approach to research and creative work that complements its rigorous academic standards. Morris provides academic excellence more affordably than its peers, as well: among the 50 highest ranked liberal arts colleges in the country, UMN Morris is the most affordable, as measured by having the lowest cost of attendance after factoring in student financial aid and grants.
Morris is one of the state’s most diverse college campuses, with nearly two-thirds of students identifying with backgrounds that have historically been underserved in higher education. A contributing component to Morris’ diverse student population and part of its distinct past predates its time as a U of M campus. Its first campus buildings housed an American Indian boarding school, which closed in 1909. The campus was transferred to the State of Minnesota with the stipulation that American Indian students “shall at all times be admitted to such school free of charge for tuition,” a policy still proudly honored. Currently, American Indian students comprise almost 30 percent of the Morris student body.
Chancellor Ericksen’s inauguration will be held on Thursday, October 26, at 11:30 a.m. in the Student Center’s Edson Auditorium. All are invited to attend.
University of Minnesota Interim President Jeff Ettinger, Professor Emerita of Education Gwen Rudney and Kianna Big Crow from the Morris Campus Student Association will make remarks from the podium as part of the event. The Honorable Janie S. Mayeron, Chair, University of Minnesota Board of Regents will officially install Chancellor Ericksen.
In recognition of the campus’s origins as an American Indian boarding school, The Northern Winds Singers will perform a Native American Honor Song to recognize and pay tribute to the new chancellor. A reception will follow on the campus mall.
About the University of Minnesota Morris
The University of Minnesota Morris is a nationally ranked top 10 public liberal arts and sciences university. At UMN Morris, students can belong, succeed, and thrive as global citizens who value and pursue intellectual growth, civic engagement, intercultural competence, and environmental stewardship. UMN Morris graduates are career-ready scholars, creative problem solvers, and community contributors. Learn more at morris.umn.edu or call 888-866-3382.