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Chancellor Behr Recognized by University of Minnesota Board of Regents

Michelle Behr
Allison Friedly
Publication date: 
June 24, 2021

University of Minnesota Morris Chancellor Michelle Behr was honored by the University of Minnesota Board of Regents at their June meeting as she neared retirement on June 25, 2021.

UMN President Joan T.A. Gabel opened the recognition on behalf of a grateful university by highlighting Chancellor Behr’s key contributions at UMN Morris, stating, “We are a better University because of your leadership and countless contributions.”

Board of Regents Chair Ken Powell presented Chancellor Behr with a certificate of recognition that acknowledged, “As... the sixth chancellor of the Morris campus, Behr spearheaded a number of initiatives including a strategic visioning and planning process that called for restructuring the enrollment management strategy, reaffirming the curricula... and enriching the campus climate.”

The Board also recognized Behr’s advocacy and leadership in building support for the campus. This work is evidenced in the success of the UMN Morris A model for living and learning effort within the UMN’s Driven. capital campaign. The campus has secured $31 million to date from donors and friends, achieving more than 150 percent of its campaign goal. The effort established nearly 550 new student scholarships, transformed facilities, and established UMN Morris’s first named professorship.

In her comments to the Board, Chancellor Behr articulated what makes UMN Morris a campus unlike any other in the U.S.. She highlighted “the magic that happens at Morris” and the important role the campus plays within the University of Minnesota, the state of Minnesota, and the nation. U.S. News & World Report has ranked UMN Morris among the nation’s top ten public liberal arts colleges for each of the last 22 years—one marker of the campus’s wide recognition for excellence as a liberal arts college.

Chancellor Behr noted that “The campus was situated in Morris in 1960 because committed community members recognized the power of having a residential liberal arts college located in this rural community and lobbied tirelessly to bring their collective dream to fruition. The University of Minnesota Morris continues to be deeply embedded in significant ways as a local partner, enhancing the quality of life in west central Minnesota and beyond.” Behr went on to say, “We collaborate with local government, local schools, local nonprofits, and local businesses. Our campus is host to facilities where the community swims, works out, practices, and competes in and watches sporting events, possible because of joint use agreements with the city, county, local school district, and other partners.”

UMN Morris is, said Behr, “a key leader in the Morris Model, a broad partnership that focuses on community resilience.” The effort has created international recognition for the campus and community in sustainability and supports a Climate-Smart Municipalities partnership with Saerbeck, Germany. UMN Morris recently celebrated the one year anniversary of achieving carbon neutrality in electricity and produces on campus the most renewable electricity per student of any U.S. university.

Behr leaves UMN Morris having coordinated a campus-wide strategic vision and plan endorsed by Campus Assembly. The plan “sets forth our campus’s path as a vibrant center for liberal arts education engaged with the region, state, nation and world. It charts our course with strategic investments launched, new structures and collaborations in place, vital work underway toward sustainable enrollments, and a renewed and shared vision for all of the work that we do.”

Chancellor Behr reflected, “It has been my privilege to become a member of the Morris community, to work with my colleagues to provide a singular undergraduate experience for our students, to elevate the unrivaled work of the University of Minnesota System, and to ensure that the University of Minnesota Morris will thrive into the future.”

Regent Mike O. Kenyanya, who participated in the UMN Morris commencement ceremonies in May, recounted hearing many Morris students speak about the chancellor and their relationships and collaboration with Behr and her administration. “Seeing how her senior staff and her students interact with her, and her greeting students by name as she walked down the hall and across the campus was wonderful. ...I think she really embodies what that campus is.” Kenyanya concluded, “We're here to thank and honor Chancellor Behr. And she takes that opportunity and turns it around to talk about Morris and speak on behalf of and boasts of what that campus is. So, thank you, Chancellor Behr, and we will miss you.”

Also at the Regents meeting, the Board heard enrollment reports for the five campuses. UMN Morris new student confirmations are up for fall 2021.

Janet Schrunk Ericksen has been named UMN Morris’s Acting Chancellor upon Behr’s retirement.

Read more of Chancellor Behr’s comments or view the Board of Regents meeting.

About UMN Morris
One of five campuses that comprise the University of Minnesota System, the University of Minnesota Morris provides opportunities for students to grow intellectually, engage in community, experience environmental stewardship and celebrate diversity. A renewable and sustainable educational experience, UMN Morris prepares graduates for careers, for advanced degrees, for lifelong learning, for work world flexibility in the future, and for global citizenship. Learn more about UMN Morris 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.