Published 4:43 p.m. MT April 1, 2021
Dr. Stephanie Erdmann was selected to lead Dr. Susan J Wolff, who will step down from her position as Dean / CEO of Great Falls College-MSU in late June. (Photo: PHOTO COURTESY OF GFC-MSU)
The Great Falls College-MSU Dean Falls / Search Advisory Committee has appointed Dr. Stephanie Erdmann as successor to Dr. Susan J. Wolff, who will retire in late June.
Erdmann was one of two semi-finalists selected by the committee and took part in public forums as part of the interview process. Dr. Chato Hazelbaker, who is currently working at Carroll College, was the other finalist vying for the position.
“I am very much looking forward to working with the remarkable faculty and staff at Great Falls College,” said Erdmann. “You are so committed to the students and the Great Falls community. It is clear that Great Falls loves this college and I know we can work together to reach new heights.”
Erdmann is currently the vice president of academic affairs and administrator of the Rice Lake campus for the Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College in Rice Lake, Wisconsin, a position she has held since 2018. She first joined the college in 2015 as the dean of the business program.
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She previously served as the Dean of Letters and Science at the College of Menominee Nation, a tribal college on the Menominee reservation in Wisconsin. From 2002, she also taught business, management and marketing at the Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
“Dr. Erdmann brings over 20 years of experience to the position, with a commitment to student success and working with business and industry to advance the local economy and improve the lives of graduates with good jobs,” said Waded Cruzado , President of Montana State University.
Over 40 people visited a virtual public forum with Erdmann on Monday afternoon, in which they introduced themselves to the community and their goals for the GFC-MSU.
Great Falls College-MSU resumed their personal classes for the summer semester on May 18, 2020. (Photo: RION SANDERS / GREAT FALLS TRIBUNE)
Erdmann’s vision for the GFC-MSU is to brand the college as a leader in innovative educational opportunities for high-demand professions. She also strives to create a collaborative, inclusive environment for academic excellence.
She hopes to create teams that will focus on increasing enrollment, devising a facility plan for the next decade, defining strategies to improve efficiency, and identifying additional revenue streams for the college.
“We can react so that working people can continue their educational activities by setting up and creating programs for part-time students,” said Erdmann.
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Erdmann is a third generation Montanan, her father is from the Huntley Project and her mother is from Columbia Falls and met at Eastern College, now MSU-Billings. After working with Buttrey’s grocery store and moving around the state, her family eventually settled in Spokane, Washington, where they later attended Spokane Falls Community College. After four quarters at Community College, she moved to the University of Montana, where she studied communication and management.
After leaving Montana and moving east of the Mississippi, she decided to return to school and completed her Masters degree from the College of Menominee Nation. She later enrolled in an online doctoral program at North Central University while her children were in middle school.
Great Falls College MSU students returned to campus for face-to-face classes in mid-May after campus closed for more than a month due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo: RION SANDERS / GREAT FALLS TRIBUNE)
During her PhD, she decided to step down from her position at the College of Menominee Nation to complete her dissertation.
“I completed the research and published Native American entrepreneurs’ perceptions of their success in starting businesses on or near reservations in Wisconsin,” Erdmann said. “I am delighted to see the University of Wisconsin expansion team referencing the findings frequently in their publications.”
She feels that her personal and professional background shows that she understands the students at two-year technical colleges like the GFC-MSU.
“I would like to continue to be able to manage changes in the higher education sector effectively,” said Erdmann.
“My professional goal is to make effective changes so that I can empower individuals to achieve their goals through education,” she continued.
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She is eager to work with GFC-MSU as it is a standalone two year campus that offers many opportunities to collaborate with other colleges in the Montana University system.
The community itself is fascinating for Erdmann. She specifically highlighted access to outdoor recreation, health care, culture and local businesses.
“I like to bring people together to solve difficult problems and I think we can do that,” said Erdmann.
Erdmann will start at GFC-MSU on July 1st until approval from the Montana Board of Regents is available at a regular meeting at the end of May.
Skylar Rispens covers education and breaking news for the Great Falls Tribune. To contact her with comments or story ideas, please email her at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @skylar_rispens or on Facebook at Skylar Rispens.
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