Northern State University President James Smith is Second MSU Presidential Finalist

Mar 7, 2014

The second presidential finalist for Murray State's Presidency will visit campus Monday and Tuesday.   James (Jim) Smith has been president at Northern State University since 2009. 

The following is information gleaned from Northern State University's bio of Smith.

James Smith

Dr. James Michael Smith has served as the sixteenth President of Northern State University since July 1 2009. Dr. Smith had most recently been serving as Vice President for Economic Development at Bowling Green State University. 

Prior to his vice presidential appointment, Dr. Smith served as Dean of BGSU Firelands, the only regional campus of Bowling Green State University.  Dr. Smith is a veteran organizational leader, with experience leading educational institutions at both the K-12 and postsecondary levels. 

Prior to joining the senior administrative team at BGSU, Dr. Smith was Dean of the School of Education at Indiana University South Bend.  As Dean of Education, Smith was charged with leading the largest degree-granting unit on the South Bend campus – nearly 1,300 majors and 100 faculty were part of the IUSB School of Education.

President Smith has also served in administrative capacities at West Texas A&M University and Butler University.  Prior to entering university administration, Dr. Smith was a public school administrator in Central and Southwestern Ohio.  Jim’s research and teaching interests have focused, primarily, on school reform, school reorganization, and the negative impacts of high stakes testing for at-risk youth.  As the author of myriad publications, Dr. Smith continues to lecture and publish scholarly findings targeted toward overall school improvement and school reform.

About Northern State University

·        Founded 1901

·        Located : Aberdeen, South Dakota

·        Enrollment: 3,622

·        Athletics: NCAA Division 2, Northern Sun Intercollegiate

  Smith's current salary is $229,000. His wife, Connie Ruhl-Smith is the director of international programs at Northern State at a salary of $85,000, according to state documents.  

The following is a summary of what's been reported about Jim Smith:

Smith has seen his university through rapid growth and accolades since his hiring in 2009.

2012 saw vast expansion for the university. NSU was permitted by the South Dakota Board of Regents to offer a master’s degree in banking and financial services. At the same time, several degrees were made available for online students, including various master’s degrees. The university was also named a top regional college in the Midwest by the U.S. News Media Group for the fifth time in a row. The fall 2012 semester saw NSU’s enrollment jump to its highest in more than 40 years.

In summer 2013, Smith oversaw several changes and cuts to various university programs necessitated by lack of funding. NSU’s golf and tennis programs were cut, as well as its Discovery program, which offered educational opportunities to students involved in substance abuse recovery. Resources from these programs were re-allocated to efforts to increase the American Indian population at NSU as well as campus safety and security.

Other accolades NSU has received under Smith’s leadership include:

-Named one of the most affordable colleges in the country by U.S. News & World Report in June 2013, the second year in a row

-Recognized as one of the top regional colleges in the Midwest by the U.S. News & World Report for the sixth straight year

Earlier this year, the South Dakota Senate approved a plan for legislative hearings concerning the state’s EB-5 immigrant investor program.  In South Dakota, the program provides eligibility for visas to foreign investors who provide at least $500,000 for U.S. job creation. An area attorney requested EB-5 records held at NSU but was met with resistance. President Smith said university employee and EB-5 coordinator Joop Bollen had resigned in 2009 and taken all records.

The investigation is still underway; the Government Operations and Audit Committee is set to review two reports from private auditing firms and one from the state Department of Legislative Audit. The reports found errors in financial procedures and the handling of documents by the Governor's Office of Economic Development.

In October 2013, Smith announced his wishes to have an on-campus football stadium built, but no plans have been made. The university announced Thursday (note: March 6) that it plans to establish a greenhouse later this year to meet demands of the rising number of biology and environmental studies majors. 

Here is the campus visit schedule for Smith:

Monday, March 10, 2014

3:30 p.m. Campus Tour (with spouse)

4:30 p.m. Meet with Foundation Board of Trustees and Community Representatives

           Location: Heritage Hall

6 p.m. Social Dinner

    Location: Oakhurst (President’s Residence)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

8:15 a.m. Meet with Interim President Tim Miller

         Location: President’s Office, Room 218 Wells Hall

9 a.m. Meet with Executive Officers

    Location: President’s Conference Room, 2nd

10 a.m. Meet with Staff Representatives

      Location: Room 118 Wells Hall

11 a.m. Meet with Faculty Representatives

      Location: Room 118 Wells Hall

12 noon- Lunch Interview with Board of Regents

         Breathitt Room – Pogue Library

2 p.m. Meet with Academic Deans

   Location: President’s Conference Room, 2nd

3 p.m. Meet with Student Representatives

   Location: Room 118 Wells Hall

4 p.m.-  5:30 p.m.  Open Forum (with spouse)

      Location: Wrather Auditorium