University System Chancellor Offered to Former Rhodes Scholar

The State Board of Higher Education has offered the position of chancellor to  Mark Hagerott. Read more about Mr. Hagerott’s history and vision for North Dakota’s University System below. It is anticipated he will accept the position and begin work July 1.

The following is reprinted from a letter addressed to the Board of Higher Education dated March 14, you can read the original here.

Dear Mr.Dear Mr. Chairman and Board Members:

I am pleased to be nominated for Chancellor of the North Dakota University System (NDUS). In a time of significant if not unprecedented technological and social change, I realize selection of your next chancellor constitutes a critically important step in making North Dakota higher education even better than it is now. After reviewing the position description and details of the search notification, I believe that I possess the commitment, personal qualities, experience, requisite skills, and education to fulfill the duties of this office. I am honored to be a candidate.

While my resume will provide many details about my work, I do not want to leave unanswered what I anticipate may be a few initial questions: why did this candidate leave Pentagon assignments and ship command in the navy to commit himself to higher education? And, why is he considering leaving the Naval Academy to come home to North Dakota? I did, indeed, change careers approximately a decade ago, leaving the Pentagon and fleet to become a professional educator in the navy’s education system, made up of multiple universities and training commands. Further, I reoriented my work from a focus on energy and advanced technology to the study of how human organizations and educational institutions adapted to technological change. Why? Because I believe the most significant changes in large organizations and society come through the educational and value formation processes, both of which are shaped in large part by the collegiate experience and academic research. I left Washington, DC and fleet duty to help young people develop their minds and bodies in order to lead and adapt our society and organizations to a dynamic and globalized future. I seek to continue this work in a civilian setting at NDUS, where I can help my home state create an even better higher educational system than the already impressive organization it is today, thus helping the eleven members of NDUS thrive in a changing socio-technical environment of the 21st century. I realize you have many candidate resumes to review so allow me to shift the format of this letter to amplify on a few points pertaining to NDUS Chancellor attributes:

  1. Commitment to the Board’s vision, mission, goals, and policies: I believe the work force and academic institutions are facing perhaps the greatest technological and economic challenges and opportunities in a century. The Board’s 2015-20 Framework is both a bold and inspiring response to this changed environment, to offer best value in the nation; to provide programs where/when needed; to produce well rounded students for success; and to tap the synergy offered by a unified and cooperative system of eleven colleges and universities. I am honored at the prospect of being able to help put this plan into action. My statement of commitment to the Board’s Framework is not just the stuff of words, however, but is demonstrated by my support of Annapolis’ mission and goals that strongly resonate: a commitment to the student, to innovation, to diversity. I recognize that to implement a new strategic framework requires a leader to engage the collective intellect and talents of the broader NDUS community; to build on the collective wisdom of university presidents, faculty and staff, students, civic leaders (including legislative and executive), business leaders, alumni, surrounding communities and other stakeholders.
  2. Record of success in promoting academic research, finances, resources generation, planning, and technology: I have served in several efforts related to these areas of activity over my career. Most recently, we have enjoyed substantial success in promoting research, fund raising, and new technology programs in the Navy’s top priority: enhanced computer and cyber security research and teaching. Specifically, at Annapolis we gained $120 million government funding for a major building program, built core courses for cyber education, and research grants from both federal and private entities. I also serve on a National Science Foundation supported effort to study cyber security curricula. In the NATO training mission where was the Director, Commander’s Action Group, we restructured the education program, conducted a strategic review of resources, policies, technology, and reworked future construction plans in this billion dollar program.
  3. Experience leading public policy development in a complex political environment: I have served in many policy development processes over my career, from my time as a White House Fellow working in National Security Council interagency groups addressing border and security issues, to the complex environment of the Military Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Defense. Perhaps the most complex environment was the massive, multi-billion dollar NATO training mission, as noted above, where I served in a key role wherein I helped adjudicate and prioritize the competing resource requests by independent organizations (including the Police Academy, Air Force training command, Military Academy, War College, and Army Medical Center). This process required sensitivity to the needs of stakeholders and the personality and social differences between state department and military officers as diverse as Canadian, British, Australian, German, Polish, and American. Most recently at Annapolis we developed plans for a major building program that required multiple briefings to congressional delegates, the Board of Visitors, and community “Town Halls” to build support for a state of the art cyber security building that would impact sensitive maritime and coastline environments. The planning was followed by a rigorous implementation process that included the monitoring of performance metrics and milestones, which were then briefed to and reviewed by the Advisory Board. A key feature of my success as part of these processes has been the communication of shared values between the leadership team and the larger community; a commitment to the transparency of the process; and inclusivity. I have found approaching policy development in complex environments in this manner builds confidence and support for implementation of new strategies, and creates an increased capacity for patience when adjustments are made due to changing assumptions or environmental/market conditions. I would continue to use such a consultative and inclusive approach as NDUS and stakeholders implement the Board’s Framework.
  4. Passion for learning, academic research, career and technical education and workforce training: In the navy as a chief nuclear engineer I was responsible for the technical training of the equivalent of 2 year community college certificates in reactor technology for a three hundred person ‘student body’. During my time as chief engineer, most all the sailors successfully achieved nuclear qualifications and certifications in their respective fields (e.g., only one officer of two dozen failed the comprehensive engineering examination). In my career in higher education, our cyber initiative now shapes the education of 1,000 students a year. Lastly, my research on educational change has been briefed the Pentagon and Fleet Headquarters on ways to better adapt officer training and navy universities to the future. I currently serve as a Fellow (nonresident) at the New America Foundation, the co-lead of a Defense Science Board study of autonomy and awareness, and am a member of the Secretary of the Navy’s “Task Force Innovation” effort which will shape budgets and education policies.
  5. Ability to collaborate, communicate openly, and embrace the culture of the state: Given the stature and influence of the office of chancellor, I realize that personal qualities of integrity and collegiality of prospective candidates may be crucial in your decision calculus. Unlike West Point or the U.S. Air Force Academy, the vast majority of Annapolis faculty is career civilian, and all the academic and athletic administrators are civilians as well. Collaborative and open communication is the hallmark of the Annapolis culture, as well as the safety-centric, transparent culture of nuclear engineering in which I spent so much of my career. As for commitment to and understanding of the North Dakota culture, this will be a homecoming of sorts. I am a North Dakota resident, own a home in Mandan, and have been part owner of the family farm northwest of town for over two decades. I am a fourth generation North Dakotan, the great grandson of homesteaders of the Dakota Territory, and am personally committed to the students and other stakeholders of our beautiful state, committed to help each of the member colleges and universities achieve greater success.
  6. Demonstrated appreciation for and support of diversity: The Navy is an equal opportunity employer, and I have served as the Chair of the Admissions Board when we inducted one of the most diverse classes in the history of Annapolis. I would continue to vigorously support such programs guided by the laws and policies of the State of North Dakota and NDUS.
  7. Appreciation for intricacies, characteristics, and distinctive qualities of a highly diverse system of higher education: One of the great benefits of NDUS is its diversity– academically, geographically, and variable size of student body. Our state should strive to make our research universities the best in the country. But some students may flourish in smaller colleges set in a more intimate, small town setting, a close relationship akin to a time long past in much of our nation. Others may prefer our high quality two year programs. This diversity is our strength and the preservation of which should continue as one of our highest priorities.
  8. Desire to support and facilitate seamless transfer with private and tribal colleges: This is hallmark of the “Joint” and “Integrative” educational programs in the Department of Defense in which I served, wherein students from other educational institutions and traditions are welcome across service lines. I enthusiastically support such a positive program attribute in NDUS.
  9. Proven, trusted leader who operates with integrity: Two aspects of my background may be helpful to consider here. First, I have been a public servant for three decades, and have accumulated a record of absolute integrity which I will continue in NDUS. Second, I have held and continue to hold the highest security clearances in the Navy and Department of Defense, and was once entrusted with nuclear weapon programs similar to those strategic nuclear deterrent military bases of the U.S. Air Force in our state today.
  10. Significant senior level administrative/academic experience in higher education: I have held several of these roles, to include as senior staff director in a $10 billion Army education command that included multiple colleges and universities in the NATO Training Mission. In addition, I have held several academic leadership positions over the past seven years at Annapolis, where I currently serve as the senior civilian and Deputy Director of the new Cyber Center and academic program, Annapolis’ top academic and construction priority. Previously, I have filled senior leadership roles including Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences, Special Assistant to the Provost, Chair of the Admissions Board, and leadership of senior Faculty Senate Committees pertaining to assessment and accreditation. I also served as an Evaluator for the Middle States Commission of Higher Education accreditation process, to include visits to major state universities (e.g., Stony Brook University of the New York University system in 2014).

I look forward to a chance to meet you in person and answer any other questions you may have.

Sincerely and very respectfully,
Mark R. Hagerott, Ph.D. Chairman

Josh Wolsky

Developer & Writer @TheMinot Voice, Fan of the Souris River, There's a lot to Savor about Minot. Fortunate to be a 'former' City Council member ;)